Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday announced an economic relief package including cut in the prices of petroleum products . giving a surprise to the opposition parties presently on the roads to bring down his government.
In his address to the nation, the prime minister said the government was reducing the petrol, diesel, and electricity prices, while it would not be increased till the next budget, which will be announced in June.
The prime minister said that the government had decided to reduce petrol and diesel prices by Rs10 and the electricity tariff will drop by Rs5. “The price of these commodities will not rise till the next budget.”
He said the government was working on building 10 dams that would help save Pakistan from global price fluctuation as power would be generated through the hydel system in future.
PM Imran Khan said the government has also decided to increase the Ehsaas programme’s cash handouts from Rs12,000 to Rs14,000 and added that jobless graduates would be awarded internships and a stipend of Rs30,000 — but did not specify the mechanism.
The premier announced a complete tax exemption for the IT sector — companies and freelancers — adding that no foreign exchange restriction will be imposed on them. Moreover, IT startups will no longer have to pay capital gains tax.
Regarding industries, PM Imran Khan said people seeking to install industries or invest in the country would not be “asked any questions,” and a package would be announced later. He also said overseas Pakistanis eyeing to invest in local industries will be given a five-year tax exemption.
Moreover, 26,000 scholarships — costing Rs38 billion — will be given to students, he said.
At the outset of his speech, PM Imran Khan said since he began politics, he wanted a sovereign policy for Pakistan, which was not dependent on any other state and was solely for the country’s benefit.
Citing an example of a foreign policy that is dependent on other countries’ interests, he noted Pakistan supported the United States in its “War on Terror” that resulted in several casualties on home soil.
“I was against this war since day one. No Pakistani was involved in the 9/11 attacks,” the prime minister said, noting that when Pakistan partook in the Afghan war earlier, it was termed as “jihad”, but when the US invaded Afghanistan, Washington said it was going into Kabul to defeat terrorism.
PM Imran Khan said Pakistan suffered heavy losses in terms of human lives and capital.
“As many as 80,000 Pakistanis were martyred, 3.5 million people were displaced, and the country suffered losses worth $150 billion.”
The premier slammed the US for bombing Pakistan despite Islamabad being a US ally in the War on Terror. He said that dictators were known for succumbing to foreign pressure to gain acceptability.
But during former dictator General Pervez Musharraf’s rule, only 10 drone attacks took place in Pakistan, while during PPP and PML-N’s tenure, a total of 400 attacks took place, he said.
“Shouldn’t democratic have stood up for people?” he asked, adding that former president Asif Ali Zardari had said he did not care for the collateral damage caused by the drone attacks.