According to well-placed sources, the PML-N government is likely to reconsider its decision to maintain petroleum product prices unchanged in light of the bad economic situation and the displeasure of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“The administration believes that subsidizing the populace with this massive multi-billion rupee package for low-cost goods is not a realistic option,” sources told The News on Saturday. “The International Monetary Fund, which is continuing its program with Islamabad, is also dissatisfied with this move.”
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif made a popular choice on Friday when he rejected the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority’s (Ogra) suggestion to raise petroleum product prices and ordered that they remain unchanged for the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, Miftah Ismail, the prospective finance minister, rushed to Twitter to emphasize the government’s inability to carry this massive weight and to suggest that the government’s recent decision may have to be reversed.
“The choice announced last night to extend gasoline and diesel subsidies was a difficult one and will have to be reviewed,” Miftah stated.
“The government was losing Rs21 per liter on petrol and Rs52 per liter on diesel,” he explained. He projected that the government would lose Rs250 crore [Rs2.5 billion] per day at this pace, or Rs3,600 crore [Rs36 billion] in two weeks, significantly more than the cost of administering the entire civilian federal government plus the entire BISP/Ehsaas programme.”