Home Latest News Pakistan Plans to Provide Subsidized Petrol to Motorcycle, Rickshaw Drivers

Pakistan Plans to Provide Subsidized Petrol to Motorcycle, Rickshaw Drivers

by Newsweek Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs the meeting of PTI Core Committee in Islamabad. Photo courtesy PID

Information minister tells media details of plan and its mode of implementation will be announced by prime minister ‘in a few days’

The federal government on Wednesday decided, in principle, to provide subsidized petrol for motorcycle and rickshaw owners, with Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain saying an official announcement will be made by Prime Minister Imran Khan “in a few days.”

Last week, the Finance Division notified a whopping Rs. 10.49/liter increase to petrol prices, citing international rates for the unprecedented surge. The new petrol price—Rs. 137.79/liter—is the highest ever recorded in Pakistan and has provoked outrage from citizens already reeling from rampant inflation. Taking advantage of the public ire, opposition parties have launched anti-government protests demanding the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) provide relief to the common man.

On Wednesday, the prime minister chaired a meeting of the PTI’s core committee to discuss the recent surge in petroleum prices and its impact on inflation nationwide. In a statement issued after the meeting, Information Minister Fawad said the government had decided to “provide petrol to owners of motorcycles and rickshaws at subsidized rates” but did not offer any other details, claiming it had not yet been decided how this plan would be implemented. He said the prime minister would address the nation “in a few days” and detail the government’s plans to provide relief to the common man.

According to lawmakers who attended the meeting, the government also decided to utilize the Ehsaas program to grant stipends to the impoverished so they could purchase essential commodities at lower rates. Special Assistant to the P.M. on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Sania Nishtar reportedly said that “eligible families” would receive discounts on “specific items” from grocery stores.

Meanwhile, the information minister claimed that while fuel prices were rising, the prices of essential items such as pulses, vegetables, sugar and wheat were on the decline. “While petrol prices have increased, the prices of pulses, vegetables, sugar and flour are on the downward trend. If the trend continues, public will get some relief. The entire government is working on tackling inflation and the premier will announce major programs in this regard in coming days,” he said.

Fawad said Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab had expressed willingness to participate in the government’s planned subsidy scheme, adding that Sindh and Balochistan had yet to agree. He once again sought to blame the Sindh government for the wheat price hike, claiming that it had delayed releasing stocks, provoking price hikes.

“According to government estimates, we will have historic wheat crop this year and the cotton yield was 60 percent more than the previous year. Sugar price is also coming down and will reduce further once the crushing season begins,” he claimed.

In contrast to the information minister’s claims, Planning Minister Asad Umar earlier this week suggested that the current state of inflationary pressure would persist for at least the next five months. “We hope people get relief soon, but—according to experts—the relief may not be visible immediately and actual improvement may be seen from March,” he told a press conference.

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