Sugar cartel won’t be allowed to manipulate prices in future, assures PM Imran – Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday assured the nation that in the future, the government will not allow the sugar cartel to tamper with prices as he addressed rising inflation in the country.

The premier was speaking at the launching ceremony of the Naya Pakistan Certificate, which offers an investment opportunity to overseas Pakistanis with a Roshan Digital Account.

The ceremony was attended by notable government officials including Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar and Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, among others.

In his address, Prime Minister Imran said that it was “unfortunate” that there was a sugar cartel in the country, adding that the competition commission had disclosed the practice and the government had taken steps to ensure that the industry does not manipulate the prices in future.

The prime minister acknowledged that prices of food commodities had increased but said that “all other indicators [of the economy] are positive”. He said that it was not just Pakistan that was suffering from food inflation; neighbouring India was also facing the same challenge.

The reason behind the increase in food prices, he said, was that “supply chains had been affected due to coronavirus”.

“On top of that, two of our wheat crops were affected due to climate change as it rained at the wrong time. [Therefore] our output was less than what we were expecting,” he said.

He told participants of the ceremony that there had been no increase in the country’s debts in the past four months. Furthermore, he said, Pakistan’s current account balance in the previous quarter had gone into surplus for the first time in 17 years. He regretted that the development “had not been highlighted” by the media.

The premier also pointed out that the inflow of remittances has been on the rise due to “excellent incentives by the State Bank” and urged the central bank’s governor, Reza Baqir, to continue efforts to ensure that overseas Pakistanis stack their money in Pakistan. The Naya Pakistan Certificate, the prime minister said, is an important step in this regard as it offers returns to overseas residents at a time when interest rates across the world had dropped.

He said that due to the increase in remittances, the rupee was getting stronger and the economy was stabilising “without any spending” by the government. The premier said that the economic situation of Pakistan would have been much better if the incumbent administration “did not have to bear the burden of past governments'” policies.

Earlier today, SBP data had revealed that remittances during the month of October had risen 14.1 per cent year-on-year to $2.3 billion, clocking in above the $2bn mark for the fifth consecutive month.

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