Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Tuesday announced a massive hike of Rs19 in petrol and diesel prices, taking them to Rs272.95 and 273.40 per litre, respectively.
In televised remarks, the finance minister said that the price of high speed diesel (HSD) and petrol in the international market had increased over the last 15 days.
He said that the government had checked the “working” of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) until the late hours of the night.
“The delay in the announcement, the basic reason was that we were looking at if there were ways to reduce it, if there was some leeway,” Dar said.
The minister said that the matter was then discussed with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif earlier today.
“We all know that the international commitments we have with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding the petroleum levy, if they weren’t there […] then we would’ve announced a smaller increase but everyone knows we have a standby agreement,” he said as he highlighted how the previous PTI government had reneged on its promises with the money lender.
“So in the country’s interest, it is necessary that the minimum increase calculated be passed and HSD is being increased by Rs19.90 and the new price will be Rs273.40. And petrol price is being increased by Rs19.95 to Rs272.95,” the minister said.
Dar added that the new prices would be effective immediately. He went on to say that the government was determined to provide relief to the people as he pointed out how diesel prices were slashes by Rs30.
“But international prices are not in the government’s control. And as I said, we did the working down to the last penny,” he said. Dar said that the prices were increased based on the final recommendation given by Ogra and with the premier’s approval.
The government could not announce the fortnightly adjustment in the prices of petroleum products on Monday, with consultations continuing into the early hours of Tuesday.
However, a 17.5pc increase was announced in the producer price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), as well as a 13.5pc raise in the LPG consumer sale price for August.
According to an Ogra notification, the LPG price was increased by Rs281.5 per domestic cylinder of 11.8kg. The new producer price is Rs1,886.30 per 11.8kg cylinder, while the consumer price is Rs2,373.64 per cylinder.
A top official said the government was finding it difficult to announce a major price increase just before it leaves office. Dar remained engaged for hours with the Ogra chairman, his team, and petroleum division officials, to find ways to avoid jacking up prices, or at least a way to minimise the increase.