The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) on Tuesday proposed bringing down prices of petroleum products for the first half of April (April 1-15).
Based on existing tax rates, Ogra has now calculated the price of petrol to come down by about Rs1.40 per litre and that of high-speed diesel by Rs5.50 per litre which will help in reducing the inflationary impact. However, it is being reported that the government might not pass on full relief to the public as it did not pass on full impact of petroleum prices internationally in recent months.
The government had increased ex-refinery prices by reducing petroleum levy rates on petroleum products in the second half of March.
If the government accepts Ogra’s recommendation and agrees to revise the petrol prices, the prices would come down to Rs110. 40 per litre from the present Rs111.90 per litre. The price of HSD will also be reduced from Rs116.08 per litre to Rs110.58 per litre.
Right now, the government is charging two types of taxes on petroleum products. It is charging petroleum levy along with collecting general sales tax.
Since the past few months, the government kept on increasing the prices of petroleum products which sent shock waves throughout the country and farmers in particular whose lives had already been adversely affected by Covid19. The unforeseen pandemic Covid19 had already resulted in loss of livelihoods and the high fuel prices added to the woes of the people.
The farmers were hit the hardest as they are reliant on diesel for irrigation and transport.
When the global oil prices went down due to Covid 19 lockdowns, Pakistan was the only country that had imposed a ban on import of cheaper petroleum products. Countries like India, Bangladesh and China on the other hand, imported huge amounts of petroleum products to fill their storages.
PM Khan faced resistance from the masses and the opposition alike when he kept on approving an increase in the cost of the petroleum products. The increase in petroleum prices was also challenged in Lahore High Court (LHC). A writ petition was filed in the court to declare the government’s move to increase fuel prices as illegal. The petition stated that the poor man who is already bearing the brunt of rising inflation is being burdened even more.
In February, OGRA had forwarded a summary to the prime minister, asking for an increase of Rs14.07 per litre in the price of petrol and Rs13.61 per litre in the price of high-speed diesel. It had also recommended an increase in the price of kerosene oil by Rs10.79 per litre.
However, PM Khan prioritized public welfare and rejected OGRA’s proposal of jacking up the prices of petroleum products.