Amid the opposition’s criticism that the PTI-led government has surrendered the country’s economic sovereignty through SBP amendment bill, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar claimed that the legislation will bring down inflation and ensure sustainable growth.

He made the remarks while addressing a news conference along with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry after the federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Hammad said the SBP Amendment Bill, which was bulldozed through the National Assembly last week, is aimed at ensuring the independence of the central bank.

“Independency of the State Bank will not only decrease inflation but also strengthen country’s economy through sustainable growth rate,” he remarked.

The ruling party on January 13 bulldozed its Finance (Supplementary) Bill, generally known as the “mini-budget”, and the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021 in line with the conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) amid fierce objection from the opposition benches.

The finance bill and the SBP bill, both tabled on Dec 30, are necessary to ensure that Pakistan’s sixth review of the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility gets cleared by the IMF executive board.

Speaking about other matters, Hammad also said the major reason for the gas shortage in Sindh is the stay order taken by local industrialists from the Sindh High Court.

He expressed the hope that soon the stay will be vacated and around 100mm (standard cubic foot) will be added to the system for household consumers.

Urea crisis

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the cabinet was briefed on the production and availability of Urea in the country.

He added the cabinet was told that the demand for urea was increased due to an increase in the cultivation of wheat and an overall increase in prices of urea around the globe.

It was apprised that urea prices are six times higher than Pakistan.

The meeting was also briefed on the electricity transmission system. It was informed that first time in the history circular debt will witness a decline from this year.

(With additional input from Radio Pakistan)