Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed officials to take the "maximum punitive action" against those responsible for the artificial shortage of petrol in the country.
According to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the premier issued the directives while chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad.
The cabinet noted that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and the Petroleum Division have the legal authority to physically enter and inspect the storage facilities of oil companies.
It directed the Ministry of Petroleum to form raiding teams, comprising representatives from the Petroleum Division, Ogra, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the district administration. Teams will be responsible for inspecting all petrol depots, the statement read.
The teams have also been given the authority to enter any site. "Anyone found involved in hoarding shall face [the] full force of [the] law, including arrest and the forced release of such stores," it added.
Further, any company found failing to maintain mandatory stocks and supply to its outlets, as per their licence, shall face punitive action, including the suspension and cancellation of said licence and heavy fines.
Imran directed the Petroleum Division and Ogra to take necessary action in order to ensure regular supply within the next 48 to 72 hours.
During the meeting, the Ministry of Energy informed the cabinet that the total supply in June last year was 650,000 metric tons while for June 2020 it was 850,000 metric tons.
The cabinet urged the public to refrain from panic buying. "Stocks being hoarded will be identified and made available in the market, while action will be taken against hoarders," the statement said.
The premier also directed the petroleum minister and Ogra to ensure that all oil marketing companies (OMCs) maintain 21 days' stock to meet the conditions of their licence.