ISLAMABAD: Days after increasing petrol prices amid strong protest from the Opposition, the government is now all set to increase the levy on petroleum products in the coming days, it emerged Saturday.
Speaking on Geo News programme Naya Pakistan, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Shaukat Tarin said, “The International Monetary Fund [IMF] has also asked to increase the petroleum development levy [PDL] but it will depend on the global prices of petroleum products.”
Hinting at an increase in the levy on oil products, Tarin said, “If the global price of oil goes down, it will be easy for the government to increase the PDL.”
He said the prices of petroleum products were increased because they were directly linked with the international market, where the prices touched their peak in the last several years.
Tarin rules out deadlock in talks with IMF
When and how the government cranks up the PDL depends upon the oil prices in the international market, the finance adviser said.
Ruling out any deadlock in the talks with the IMF, Tarin said there is a single irritant regarding the autonomy of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) being currently negotiated upon, which he said will hopefully be resolved in the coming days.
The adviser declined to comment on the issue regarding the SBP’s autonomy. However, he said the IMF officials have appreciated Pakistan’s objections to the SBP’s autonomy draft which the country [sort of] agreed to in March.
Commenting on the IMF’s condition regarding income tax, Tarin said Pakistan will not go for pyramiding as the country is getting good results on the revenue side.
Pakistan went food deficient and had to import food items which led to the hike in food prices, he said, adding that the global prices of steel, coal and palm oil have gone up and the country has to import them. He said the situation was not the same six to seven months back when petrol, which has recently shot up to $87, was being sold at $45 to $50.
The government has announced a subsidy as part of relief to the poor, he said, adding that the government is making efforts to enhance agricultural produce.
The government is doing all it can to increase agricultural produce, Tarin said, adding that the country got a good sugarcane crop this year which will ultimately help reduce the price of sugar. He also expressed optimism on the increased production of wheat and other staple crops, saying it will ultimately push down food prices.
Tarin blames sugar mill owners for price hike
Imported sugar is in abundant quantity in the country but its price went up because sugar mill owners and dealers hoarded the commodity and got a stay order from the court, he said. The adviser said sugar will sell at around Rs90/kilogramme once the stay order is lifted.
Replying to a question regarding effective government control on food items, he said that after the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment, it was the prerogative of the provinces to fix the prices of food items.
The PTI government is trying to reduce the circular debt without burdening the common people, he said.
The adviser said Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced a huge economic relief package for the poor of the country in this difficult time as the government is taking some concrete measures to reduce inflation.
Tarin said the government is considering reducing the import of CBUs, ie Completely Built Units, to reduce the import bill. The government will also try to reduce the import of non-essential items.