Islamabad: “The government has burnt another hole in the pockets of the poor citizens of this country with an extortionate increase of up to 106% in petrol levy. It appears that by reducing petrol prices by a negligible Rs. 5 they were just laying the groundwork for dropping the levy bomb that will send prices of several commodities across the country soaring,” PPP Parliamentary Leader in Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said.
She added, “Even the Rs. 5 reduction in petrol prices was inadequate when we see where the global oil prices stand. Globally, oil prices are down by nearly 30%. It is unfortunate that when international prices go up the government is quick to shift its impact on the people but when they go down, the domestic prices are so disproportionately reduced”.
“Agriculture, transport and small industries, all will bear the crippling side effects of the levy being imposed in addition to the gas and power tariffs already imposed on them. This is quite clearly an IM-run government, incapable of protecting its citizens who have remained incessantly exposed to a vicious inflationary cycle. The government is getting businesses shut and people laid off while it takes pride in filling almonries up. Is that a policy?” Rehman asked.
She questioned, “Why is the government’s policy not focused on widening the tax base and taxing the rich? So far the weight of all the additional revenue earning measures has fallen on the backs of tax-payers while the privileged few are busy profiteering from sugar and flour crisis. Why should people suffer for the Rs. 480 billion revenue shortfall being faced by the revenue department? Plus, that’s not the only under-performing department. Recently, NEPRA too asked for a national power emergency to be declared with circular debt swelling by a monthly average of Rs. 42 billion. Overall, it has -reached an alarming Rs. 1.93 trillion as opposed to the undervalued figures being provided by the power division. This is despite the regular hikes in power tariff. On top of this a ban on labour unions is proposed in contravention of the right to freedom of association under Article 17 of the Constitution”.
“Is PTI the first government to go to the IMF? Certainly not, however, it is the first one that has not bargained for its people. When the PPP came in 2008, the political, security and economic environment was a lot more challenging, international oil prices were twice as much as they are today, yet we didn’t pass them on to our people entirely. We formulated policies and gave subsidies ensuring petrol was sold at a relatively lower rate of Rs. 63/litre. That was governance, this is downright subordination,” the Senator concluded.