ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan may address the nation in the next few days to take it into confidence over the evolving global situation in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with particular reference to its expected impact on the world’s economy and Pakistan, Dawn has learnt.
A highly placed government source told Dawn that the prime minister had convened a meeting of his economic team at his Banigala residence on Sunday (today).
“Consultations are under way. The prime minister is constantly in touch with his economic team and keeping a close eye on the evolving world scenario,” a senior member of the federal cabinet said on condition of anonymity when asked about the possibility of the prime minister’s address to the nation. “Energy and commodity markets are volatile and it may be important to take people into confidence on important developments.”
The source said, however, said that no time and date for the prime minister’s address had been decided.
The prime minister plans to address the nation amid reports that the prices of all key petroleum products are estimated to go up by Rs8 to Rs10 on Monday (tomorrow) for the next fortnight, mainly because of higher international oil prices, application of additional petroleum levy and currency devaluation.
Earlier on Feb 15, the government increased the petroleum levy on all petroleum products by Rs4 per litre as per a commitment made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), while sales tax had been reduced to zero on all products to contain the inflationary impact.
If the government decides to continue with the practice of Rs4 per litre monthly increase in the petroleum levy, increase in the ex-depot sale price of petrol is estimated at about Rs9.60 per litre, followed by Rs8.50 for high-speed diesel (HSD).
The government has been facing criticism from the opposition and there has been resentment within the masses over the record increase in oil prices.
PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman in a statement warned the government against further increase in oil prices, stating that it would create more problems for the already inflation-stricken people.
She said global crude oil price was around $100 a barrel at present, recalling that it had reached $110 when the PPP was in power but petrol was being sold for Rs113 per litre at that time.
On the other hand, the petrol price had already reached Rs160 per litre now after the recent historic raise of over Rs10 per litre by the PTI government, she said.
Petrol and HSD are two major products that generate most of the government revenue because of their massive and yet growing consumption in the country.
The average monthly sale of petrol is touching 750,000 tonnes per month against around 800,000 tonnes of HSD. Sales of kerosene and light diesel oil are generally less than 11,000 and 2,000 tonnes per month, respectively.
Under a new mechanism, oil prices are revised by the government on a fortnightly basis to pass on international prices published in the S&P Global Platts Oilgram Price Report instead of the previous mechanism of monthly calculations on the basis of Pakistan State Oil’s import cost.
Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2022