Pakistan’s information minister says center will work to mitigate suffering of Karachi residents
Pakistan’s federal cabinet has formed an inquiry commission to probe the reasons behind the recent shortage of petroleum products in the country, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad after the cabinet meeting, he said the commission would be headed by the head of the Federal Investigation Agency, and promised that it would take action against everyone involved in creating the shortage. He said the commission would also include representatives from the Intelligence Bureau, Inter-Services Intelligence, State Bank of Pakistan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, Competition Commission of Pakistan, Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan and the Federal Board of Revenue.
According to the information minister, the commission would be empowered to hire market experts to examine administrative decisions during monthly and quarterly product review meetings, check import orders and inspect stocks throughout the supply chain.
Faraz also revealed that the Petroleum Division had moved a summary to delay the import of eco-friendly Euro-V diesel and petrol; the fuel standard was to be enforced from Aug. 1, but has instead been shifted to Sept. 1.
Wheat and sugar
During the press conference, the information minister claimed there were sufficient stocks to match demand for wheat and sugar despite a recent surge in prices of both commodities despite repeated assertions by Prime Minister Imran Khan that prices would be kept under control.
He said wheat was being supplied to Punjab flour mills, and the provincial government was providing Rs. 16 billion rupees in subsidy. Despite claiming no shortage, Faraz said the private and public sectors had been directed to import wheat to meet the deficit of 1.5 million tons of wheat.
Referring to the recent rains in Sindh capital Karachi that have inundated streets and left large parts of the metropolis under water, Faraz accused the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party of not doing anything to improve its sewerage system. He said that upgrading the drainage system was the responsibility of the provincial government but the federal government would work to mitigate the suffering of city’s residents. “We cannot leave the people of Karachi at the mercy of the Sindh government,” he said.
The information minister reiterated a claim of the center that the Sindh government had “eaten up” billions in public sector funds but not done anything to uplift cities of the province.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office cited P.M. Khan as saying that empowering the local government was the only way to solve Karachi’s problems. He said the federal government wanted Article 140A of the Constitution implemented in its true spirit.
Referring to the all-parties conference announced by the opposition after Eidul Azha, Faraz said claimed the opposition leaders were not sincere with each other.
He also said that the prime minister was satisfied with progress on the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme and reiterated that it would boost the construction sector and have a positive effect on the economy.
Referring to the coronavirus pandemic, the information minister said that while prevailing trends were encouraging, this was not the time to be complacent. He urged people to strictly follow SOPs to curb the virus during Eidul Azha.