Public fumes with anger over oil price hike

Published July 16, 2021
The Punjab chapter of Petroleum Dealers Association of Pakistan was first to cry foul, even before the government announced the increase. — AFP/File
The Punjab chapter of Petroleum Dealers Association of Pakistan was first to cry foul, even before the government announced the increase. — AFP/File

LAHORE: As the government raised per litre price of petrol by a whopping Rs5.40, which came on the heel of last two increases, all segments of society on Thursday reacted sharply, saying it [as always] would have a multiplier effect, contributing to inflation and making lives miserable for commoners.

The Punjab chapter of Petroleum Dealers Association of Pakistan was first to cry foul, even before the government announced the increase. In the morning, its general-secretary Jehanzaib Malik, in a press statement said that expecting increase, the oil marketing companies (OMC) had squeezed supplies up to 90 per cent in the last four days, creating crisis for stations.

“They [OMCs] do it regularly - on 15th and 30th of every month – especially if they expect increase,” he said talking to Dawn.

For the last four days, supplies were reduced to minimum. What all these companies do during these days leading up to increase in price, they build up stocks, fill the supply chain and flood the market once price in increased. The kind of money they make can be judged from the fact that the city has around 350 stations, with an average of sale of 15,000 litres. Each station would roughly yield additional Rs80,000. Multiply it with 350 and it comes to around Rs280 million a day, he rues, claiming: “One would see oil carrying vehicles making bee lines at each station to fill its tanks and mint money.”

“Oil moves the whole society, its commerce and trade. Expect freight charges going up in the next few hours and the entire cost passed on to the commodities (fruits, vegetables and milk etc.) that are transported to city on a daily basis,” says Muhammad Ramzan, a fruit trader in the city main market.

“The truckers do not make formal announcement of increased fares, they simply and quietly increase them and people realise when prices of daily commodities jump. In the next 24 hours, price of vegetables and fruits would surely go up. How much? It would depend upon how much truckers exploit the hike in diesel price (Rs2.54 per litre),” he says.

Agriculturists are equally furious. “How can a farmer plan his investment (running of vehicles, farm machinery and tubewells) on crops if he has to face multiple increases in diesel rate?” laments Pervaiz Hassan, a farmer from Arifwala.

The entire public transport runs on diesel, and those using it are enraged. “The transporters would certainly hike fares double than what the current increase in diesel price justifies,” says Kausar – a house help worker who commutes daily from Walton to Waris Road.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan People’s Party condemned the increase in petroleum prices, saying the governments around the world facilitate their citizens, especially before a religious festival. In Pakistan, the PTI is punishing people before Eidul Azha.

Deputy secretary information Munawar Anjum in a statement said during the last three years of its rule, the government had done nothing but to inflict high inflation on the people.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2021

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