• Talks with govt deadlocked; closure of over 13,000 petrol stations may go beyond Friday
• Govt sets up monitoring cell to manage supply situation during strike

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Petro­leum Dealers Association (PPDA) on Wednesday announced that its talks with provincial and federal governments and other stakeholders had hit a deadlock, leaving them with no option but to go for a nationwide closure on July 5 (tomorrow).

“They asked us to call off strike and promised to resolve the issue, but we cannot postpone the strike on mere assurances,” PPDA chairman Abdul Sami Khan said while speaking to Dawn.

He explained that he met almost every stakeholder in the government, including those he could not name, besides the finance minister, chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority chief, petroleum secretary and representatives of the oil marketing companies’ advisory council, but dealers’ complaints remained unaddressed.

“There would be no more talks with the government till the ‘unfair’ turnover tax was withdrawn,” Mr Khan said, adding the pumps would start drying out on Thursday. He said the double taxation was not only cruel but unconstitutional as well.

13,000 stations to be shut

Mr Khan said that more than 13,000 petrol stations would be closed from July 5 at 6am onward and the strike could continue over the following days unless demands were met and notified. He appealed to the owners and operators of retail outlets to keep their stocks for July 4.

On the other hand, the petroleum division set up a monitoring cell to oversee the fuel supply position and coordinate with stakeholders during the strike call of petroleum dealers.

The representatives of oil marketing companies, Ogra and petroleum division had appointed focal persons to be part of the monitoring cell.

The petroleum division again issued letters to OMCs “to ensure availability of sufficient stocks of petroleum products” at company-owned or company operated and other associated sites of respective OMCs to avoid any disruption of supply chain and inconvenience to the general public and industry.

The dealers are protesting against the imposition of turnover tax in the recent budget. They argue that outlets were already paying advance fixed withholding tax at Rs1.4 per litre (about 12pc of dealer commission) as final income tax and had been subjected to double taxation in the shape of 0.5pc advance turnover tax now because of definitional issue of ‘dealers and distributors’.

The FBR chairman had earlier on Tuesday assured the dealers that the turnover tax would be withdrawn. This, however, involved a long process. As the petroleum secretary put it, the turnover tax had been imposed through the Finance Act 2024-25, passed by parliament and endorsed by the president. To reverse this, a legislative process was required.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2024

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