Low fuel prices in a deteriorating economy are unworkable. Oil subsidy wastes two billion rupees per day, mostly benefitting rich. Govt can keep inflation low through cross-subsidy.

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(April 27, 2022)

Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum & All Karachi Industrial Alliance and Former Provincial Minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said Pakistan has the weakest economy in the region but the price of petroleum products is less than other countries which is amazing.

In the case of oil, a subsidy of about two billion rupees is being given daily, out of which more than half is benefiting those who do not need this concession, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the government should make oil cheaper for motorcycles and three-wheelers while fuel for cars should be expensive.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the government can consider cross-subsidies in fuel to keep inflation a bit lower.

He said that after the bankruptcy of Sri Lanka, Pakistan has become one of the most challenged economies in the region. How can a country which cannot function without debts keep the price of oil lower than the countries of the region with stable economies, he asked.

He noted that those who sacrificed national interests for petty political gain aggravated the problem through subsidies and amnesty schemes and stopped the IMF program, which is now being revived to save the country from a debt crisis.

Mian Zahid Hussain further said that the present government has less time and more problems but Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail have focused on the revival of the devastated economy which will soon yield better results.

Prime Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s strategy, good governance and efforts have significantly reduced the load shedding and inflation has started declining.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the increase in diesel price through cross-subsidy could be avoided as it is used as fuel transport, power production, industrial production and agriculture, whereas a large quantity of petrol was used in motorcycles, rickshaws and cars.

The increase in the price of petrol increases inflation but diesel price hike is more damaging for the economy, therefore, cross-subsidy can help reduce the impact of inflation.

According to OGRA, at present petrol is being subsidized at Rs21.3 per liter while diesel is being subsidized at Rs51.2 per liter.

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