ISLAMABAD – Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday his government would launch a relief package of Rs28 billion per month "to protect the poor from the burden of petrol and diesel price hike".
A day after the PML-N-led government removed fuel subsidies and increased the price of petrol by Rs30 per litre, Sharif said in his first address to the nation 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, he said, 14 million poor families or 85 million people would get 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 said he had directed Utility Stores to set the price of 10kg sack of flour at Rs400.
PM Shehbaz said his government's move to increase fuel prices was necessary to save Pakistan from bankruptcy.
Shehbaz termed the PTI government's decision to give fuel subsidy a "trap" for the next government. "Petroleum prices are increasing worldwide but they [PTI government] subsidised fuel despite knowing that the treasury cannot bear its burden," he said.
Also, the premier said the previous government's tenure proved costly for Pakistan on the diplomatic front. In an apparent reference to the United States, he said: "A most trusted friendly country — the one that supported us in all difficult circumstances — was made upset. But we have started the rebuilding process."
He said the PML-N government reversed all measures taken by the ex-government that curbed the freedom of speech and scrapped a proposal to set up the controversial Pakistan Media Development Authority.
Shehbaz said Pakistan was burdened with Rs20,000 billion debt by the previous rulers and the current fiscal year's budget deficit stood at Rs5,600 billion.
Earlier, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a tweet the premier will announce policy decisions of the coalition government on important issues. Pakistan Television will air the address live at 8:00 PM.
Pakistani rupee remains stable against US dollar in the open market on February 25, 2024 (Sunday).
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.5 for buying and 282.55 for selling.
Euro currently stands at 302 for buying and 305 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 352.5 for buying, and 356 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.1 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.35.
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