ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has assailed the government for the record increase in the prices of petroleum products.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, former prime minister and senior PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the decision to increase the prices was an admission by the government that it had failed to collect taxes and boost the economy.
He said at a time when Covid-19 had badly affected the common man, the government had shifted the burden of its sheer incompetence to them.
He said the petroleum companies were seeking an increase of Rs15 per litre and somebody had been rewarded with an additional hike of Rs10.
In reply to a question, Mr Abbasi said there could be a threat to democracy if the people took to the streets. He made it clear that the PML-N would not become part of any undemocratic change in government.
Ex-PM Abbasi says government has failed to collect taxes
The former prime minister said when the PML-N was in power oil price was around $70 per barrel in the international market.
He said the present government was purchasing petrol for about Rs55 per litre so it should have sold it for Rs35 per litre less than the price revised on Friday.
Addressing the press conference, former defence minister Khawaja Asif criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for his tweets against increase in petroleum prices in 2013 and 2018.
He said the electricity tariff was bound to go up now as the power sector was dependent on petroleum.
The PML-N leader said Imran Khan and Pakistan could not co-exist and noted that if the present government got more time an irreparable damage could be caused to the country.
He asked Mr Khan to accept his failure on all fronts, including the economy, and resign forthwith to pave way for election of another leader by his party.
He accused the prime minister of using state institutions for political point-scoring and satisfying his ego.
Former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal said there was no precedence in the country’s history of a 34 per cent increase in petroleum prices in a single day. He said the government had given a jackpot of billions of rupees to the mafias who had stocked up oil.
Mr Iqbal said the increase in oil prices would lead to hikes in power tariff and transportation charges and subsequently the production cost of each and every item would go up, which would be passed on to the consumers.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan in a recent tweet said he wanted to see a strong parliament.
At a time when the budget proposals were being discussed in parliament, the prime minister stabbed the poor people of the country in the back to shore up the drifting economy, the PML-N leader added.
The sudden decision of the government of notifying the record hike in the prices of petroleum products took many by surprise because it was out of schedule and was not prompted by any summary moved by the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), which is the normal procedure.
The decision of increasing the prices of petroleum products was announced by the Ministry of Finance after consultations with representatives of the Petroleum Division and the International Monetary Fund on the basis of import price provided by the state-run Pakistan State Oil (PSO) which has imported five cargoes of petrol and four cargoes of high speed diesel so far during the current month.
Based on existing tax rates and PSO’s import cost, the ex-refinery or import parity price of petrol was worked out at about Rs45 per litre. The product is mostly used in private transport, small vehicles and two-wheelers. The ex-refinery cost of diesel is now estimated at about Rs43 per litre. HSD is mostly used in heavy transport vehicles and agricultural engines like trucks, buses, tractors, tube wells and threshers etc.
Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2020