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Reduction in the prices of petroleum products:Nawaz

20 November, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Wednesday that the government would further reduce the prices of petroleum products next month, which would help check inflation and give ease to the masses.

"The reduction in prices of petroleum products will benefit the growers through depreciation in power bills of tube-wells and also give ease to general public in rural and urban areas through decreased transport fares," he said in comments telecast by the state-run TV channel after chairing a meeting on energy. The prime minister also referred to the cut in prices of petroleum products last month, which eased inflationary pressures on the masses, and said the government wanted to give maximum relief to the people.

"We will announce a reasonable cut in the prices of petroleum products this time as well," he maintained. Oil prices slipped in Asia on Monday but losses were limited by speculation that the OPEC cartel would be forced to cut output to prevent further big losses, analysts said. Crude was supported by "speculation that OPEC will put a floor on prices by curbing output now that Brent is trading persistently below $80", said Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore.

Prime Minister Nawaz termed the recent signing of billions of dollars agreements with China a "game-changer" and said the establishment of power houses and factories would prove historic in terms of elimination of load shedding. "Those staging sit-in may not be desiring to see end of load shedding, but I am committed to do it and we will address this problem within our tenure of government," he added. The prime minister said he had stated time and again that there was no quick fix of the years old energy problem.

"We are heading fast to address this issue, and once the issue is addressed, it will be a great service to the nation." Nawaz Sharif said it was very unfortunate that due to the sit-ins the Chinese president had to postpone his planned visit to Pakistan. But on the invitation of the Chinese president, he added, he visited China to sign agreements worth billions of dollars. During his visit, the Chinese president had promised to visit Pakistan, he said, adding that like the Pak-China friendship, he had very close and personal relations with the Chinese President for long.

Referring to the fall in rice prices in the international market, the prime minister said it had also affected Pakistan's Basmati rice growers. Agriculture, he said, was the backbone of the country's economy and the government was taking steps to provide support to this important sector. He said decrease in the prices of agricultural inputs and ensuring better return to growers for their products was on the agenda of his government. The premier said he had directed the ministers of finance and food security to take immediate measures to support the farmers, particularly the rice growers.

He asked Ministry of Food Security to consult provincial governments and develop a system so that direct benefit of the subsidy should go to the grower and not the middleman. He directed ministries to come up with a plan within six weeks through which cost of agricultural inputs could be brought down to make the grower comfortable in the local market and competitive in the international market. Nawaz directed submission of a proposal regarding provision of solar panels on soft loans for installation of tube-wells for agriculture sector. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Minister for National Food Security Sikandar Hayat Bosan were among those present in the meeting.

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