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Was not supposed to announce petrol price hike on TV, Miftah Ismail says

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Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail on Friday said that he was “not supposed to” appear on national television the night before to announce a hike in the prices of petroleum products but he did so after being asked by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

His clarification on Twitter came after a clip of his appearance on a television show was shared. In it, he can be seen saying he will not be appearing on television again that night.

Speaking on Dawn News show “News Wise”, the finance minister said: “It is said whenever Miftah Ismail comes on TV, petrol prices go up. But I will not be appearing on television after this (show).”

In the show, which airs at 7pm, Ismail said that the “government will decide” whether prices will be raised July 1 onwards and that as of that point in time he has not been informed of any such decision. “And neither do I have this in my mind that I have to go announce it on TV.”

He also spoke of the petroleum development levy which the International Monetary Fund has advised be brought up to Rs50 per litre. The finance minister said that there are plans to impose the levy “gradually” and that “there is no deadline”.

About four hours later, Ismail and Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik briefed the media on a raise in petrol prices, to be effective starting midnight.

Explaining in his tweet what had occurred, the finance minister said: “I was not supposed to go on TV last evening to announce this. Another colleague was supposed to do this. But PM sahib decided that Musadik Malik and I should do that.”

With the fresh hike, the price of petrol will be Rs248.74/litre, diesel will be Rs276.54/litre, kerosene oil will be sold for Rs230.26/litre, and the price of light diesel oil will be Rs226.15/litre.

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Over 600 points are added by PSX in intraday trading.

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Tuesday’s lunchtime trading on the Pakistan Stock Exchange saw favorable activity.

During intraday trading, the benchmark KSE-100 Index increased by 672.08 points, or 1.11%, and was trading at 61131.82 levels.

The KSE-30 Index was trading at 20,558.31 after adding 211.46 points, or 1.04%.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) had another round of discussions for the establishment of a central government the day before the rally in the local stock exchange.

In the meanwhile, Fitch Ratings has issued a warning, stating that the likelihood of default would rise in the event of a drawn-out discussion or the inability to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to the State Bank of Pakistan, which reported net foreign reserves of $8 billion as of February 9, 2024, up from a low of $2.9 billion on February 3, 2023, Pakistan’s external situation has improved recently.

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The smartphone app “Tajir Dost” to tax Pakistani businesses is anticipated to launch on February 22.

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The sources stated that the caretaker administration aims to include 3.5 million shops in the tax net by use of the “Tajir Dost” app.

They said that Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, the acting prime minister, has instructed the relevant authorities to conclude their engagement with the retailing bodies within a few days.

The introduction of the “Tajir Dost” smartphone app to impose taxes on several merchants was authorized earlier this month by the acting federal administration.

The smartphone application, created by Pakistan Revenue Authority Limited (PRAL), a division of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), is intended to serve as a registration tool for shops and dealers throughout the nation.

The app’s database will be updated with the traders’ information who have already registered with the FBR.

Previously, in December 2023, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) made history by collecting Rs1.021 trillion. After deducting refunds of Rs 38 billion that were given out that month, the FBR’s net collection increased to Rs 984 billion.

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SBP confirms the choice to use new currency notes was not influenced by the IMF.

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In response to recent rumours, Saleem Ullah, the deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), said on Thursday that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had no influence over the decision to release new currency notes.

Saleem Ullah underlined in an interview that printing new notes is a regular procedure carried out every 15 to 20 years to maintain the currency’s integrity.

He stressed that, in contrast to rumours, the deficit is expected to decline in the next fiscal year, in line with the goals of the new monetary policy.

“Every 15 to 20 years, new notes are printed,” he clarified. The new currency’s goal is to keep the note’s integrity intact.”

The SBP assured the public earlier this week that the current banknote series will continue to be in circulation despite the introduction of new currency notes, which it intended to implement over the course of the next two years.

Regarding the latest series of currency notes, the deputy governor clarified that they were launched in 2005 and were in circulation for three years.

He admitted that the procedure was time-consuming and estimated that because of the careful preparation required, it would take around two years to issue the first note.

In addition, he guaranteed that the new banknotes will have improved security measures because they would be made using contemporary technology. He gave information regarding the SBP’s effort to get public feedback on the new currency notes’ design, highlighting the fact that recommendations were being actively sought from the populace.

“There are three prizes for each denomination, and there are a total of seven denominations, hence 21 prizes,” he disclosed, highlighting the process’ openness. First place is worth Rs 1 million, second place is worth Rs 500,000, and third place is worth Rs 300,000.

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