Admitting that the people of Pakistan were facing the brunt of rising inflation, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged them to “stay strong” until his government fixed the debt-ridden economy.
His comments came as Pakistani media reported that Khan’s government was close to clinching a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). And all signs show that this package ? of USD 6.5 billion, according to estimates ? will cost the Pakistanis dearly, the Express Tribune reported.
According to official figures released on Friday, Pakistan’s economy registered a dismal 3.3 per cent growth in 2018-19, achieving just over 50 per cent of its projected target of 6.2 per cent, as all key sectors failed to perform.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of a modern hospital in Rawalpindi, Khan said, “It is absolutely true that right now, our people are [facing] difficulties. Power is expensive, gas is expensive.
“I understand that inflation [is rising],” he said and urged the people to “stay strong” in the face of rising inflation and promised that the country “will make it through this time”.
“But what I want you to understand is this: why do prices rise? It is because power and gas sectors are indebted. When our government came to power, debts [of both sectors] had risen to Rs1,300 billion.
“You only have two ways [to tackle debt]: either you take more loans ? and our power sector is already so indebted that we cannot borrow anymore money ? and so we have to raise prices,” he said.
Khan said that the people will have to “live in difficulty” until the government “fixes the system” and repays the country’s debts.
Prices of basic commodities have been raised multiple times since Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf came to power in August last year.
The latest increase in food prices came just before Ramazan. Prices of petroleum products also saw a massive hike last week, causing the price of petrol to increase by Rs 9.42 and kerosene by Rs 7.46 per litre.
The prime minister promised that his government would try its best to “fulfil the basic needs of the people”.
He said that his government will provide loans to young people to start businesses, provide cows and buffaloes to rural residents and issue health cards to poor people so they can access affordable medical care.