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Shehbaz announces Rs.28bn relief package, flays Imran for “baseless anti-US propaganda”

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday announced massive saving of Rs 28 billion on buying of petrol for 14 million poor families to protect them from effects of inflation.
In his address to the nation on Friday, he said every family registered with the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) will get a monthly relief of Rs 2000 on petrol buying. About one third of the country’s population or 85 million people will benefit from the financial relief.

He directed the Utility Stores Corporation to provide the 10 kilogramme flour bag for Rs 400.
The Prime Minister said the government took the difficult decision of raising prices of petroleum products to save Pakistan’s economy from a precarious situation and economic default.

A day after his government increased the price of petroleum products by Rs30, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced that his government will include a Rs28 billion relief package in the upcoming budget to help those who are most affected by the hike. 

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressing his first address to the nation on Friday.

At the beginning of his address, the premier said that assuming the office of the prime minister at this crucial time was not easy. “I would like to thank my leader Nawaz Sharif and the leaders of our allied parties for trusting me with this office,” he said.

The prime minister said taking up the challenge of coming into power was not easy as the country’s situation was gloomy, and the nation was plagued with hatred during the previous government’s tenure.

PM Shehbaz said a diplomatic cable was used by his predecessor for political means and lies were told despite the National Security Committee (NSC) and the Pakistani envoy to the United States rubbishing the Imran Khan’s claims.

The premier said if the PTI chairman thinks his “ego” is bigger than the state, then it is his misconception as Pakistan will run in line with the Constitution and not on the direction of one person.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressing his first address to the nation on Friday.

Former prime minister Imran Khan has repeatedly blamed the US for backing the no-confidence motion — that lead to his ouster — and has refused to accept the newly-elected government.

He claimed that US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu had threatened Pakistan’s ambassador for removing his government.

“This person, when Pakistan was progressing under prime minister Nawaz Sharif, held dharnas. At that time, Chinese President [Xi Jinping] had to come to Pakistan, but due to his arrogance, the agreement that was scheduled to take place was delayed.”

The premier stressed that the incumbent is responsible for the people’s safety and security and would not compromise in this regard.

Reminding the PTI of their performance in the last government, PM Shehbaz said it was Imran Khan that struck a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), not the current government.

In his first address to the nation — a day after his government removed fuel subsidies and increased the price of petrol by Rs30 — he said it was because of the previous government that he had to take the “difficult decision” to increase fuel prices with a “heavy heart”.

Under the relief package, the premier said, 14 million poor families, comprising 85 million people, would being given Rs2000 per family.

He said this was in addition to the monetary assistance being given to them under the Benazir Income Support Programme. “This relief package will be added in the next budget,” the premier said.

He further said that he had directed Utility Stores to set the price of 10kg sack of flour at Rs400. Shehbaz said his government’s move to increase fuel prices was necessary to avoid Pakistan from facing bankruptcy.

“The previous government is deliberately concealing facts. I want to remind them that you entered into a deal with IMF, not us. You accepted their harsh terms, not us. You pushed the country into an economic mess, not us.”

He termed the PTI government’s decision to grant fuel subsidy a “trap” for the upcoming government.

“Petroleum prices are increasing worldwide but they [PTI government] subsidised fuel despite knowing that the treasury cannot bear its burden.”

PM Shehbaz recalled that he had proposed a “charter of economy” nearly four years ago but “my proposal was rejected with disdain”.

He said the charter was imperative so that no government could use the economy for the sake of politics, adding that he would reach out to all political parties for dialogue on the matter.

He said the previous government’s tenure also proved costly for Pakistan on the diplomatic front. “A most trusted friendly country — the one that supported us in all difficult circumstances — was made upset. But we have started the rebuilding process,” the premier said in an apparent reference to the United States.

He also recalled that the incumbent government reversed all measures taken by the ex-government that curbed the freedom of speech, including scrapping a proposal for the controversial Pakistan Media Development Authority.

The premier said he took charge of the government at a time when the country was facing a myriad of crises. “We knew the remedial measures will take much effort and time to yield results, but we still took up the reins for the sake of the country.”

Without naming former PM Imran Khan, he said lies were spoken to the nation about a “foreign conspiracy” to further “political goals”. He went on to say that “this man hurt diplomatic relations of Pakistan for his personal interests.”

Shehbaz said Pakistan would be run according to the Constitution and not according to the desires of an individual.

Recounting the economic failures of the PTI government, PM Shehbaz said Pakistan was burdened with Rs20,000 billion debt taken by the previous rulers while the current fiscal year’s budget deficit stood at Rs5,600bn.