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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Prices of petrol and high-speed diesel increased yet again

Caretaker government of Pakistan announced another significant increase in the prices of petrol and high-speed diesel (HSD).

In a late-night decision, the caretaker government of Pakistan announced another significant increase in the prices of petrol and high-speed diesel (HSD), sending shockwaves throughout the nation. This hike, the latest in a series of adjustments, has raised petrol prices by Rs26.02 per litre and HSD by Rs17.34 per litre. With these adjustments, the price of petrol now stands at Rs331.38 per litre, and HSD at Rs329.18 per litre. The Ministry of Finance cited rising international petroleum prices as the driving force behind this decision.

International Context

The global petroleum market plays a pivotal role in shaping fuel prices in Pakistan. The decision to increase fuel prices stems from the upward trajectory of international oil prices. Benchmark international Brent prices surged from $88 per barrel in the first week of September to over $92 per barrel by mid-September. This increase nullified any potential relief from the depreciation of the Pakistani rupee against the U.S. dollar. The volatile interplay between exchange rates and international oil prices underscores the challenges faced by the government in stabilizing fuel prices.

Read More: Another Rs.15 petrol price hike in the pipeline for Pakistan

Impact on Consumers

The impact of these price hikes extends far beyond the pump, affecting the everyday lives of Pakistan’s citizens. Most notably, the transport sector, reliant on HSD, faces a significant blow. HSD is the lifeblood of heavy transport vehicles, trains, and agricultural engines, such as trucks, buses, tractors, and tube wells. This price increase will inevitably ripple through the supply chain, adding to the costs of essential commodities, including vegetables and other food items. This has the potential to exacerbate inflation and make basic goods less affordable for the average Pakistani.

On the other hand, petrol primarily fuels private transport, small vehicles, rickshaws, and two-wheelers. It directly impacts the budgets of middle- and lower-middle-class citizens who rely on these modes of transportation for their daily commutes. As petrol prices soar, households face the daunting task of managing tighter budgets, with less disposable income available for other essentials.

Economic Ramifications

The fuel price hike comes hot on the heels of an already substantial increase in August’s inflation rate, which exceeded 27.4%. This surge in inflation will have a cascading effect on prices across the country in the coming days and weeks, making everyday goods and services more expensive. Rising fuel costs, a critical input for transportation and production, contribute to the inflationary pressures in the economy. As a result, businesses may face higher operating costs, which can lead to price hikes for their products and services.

Government Revenue and Policy

Petrol and HSD are major revenue sources for the government, with monthly sales reaching approximately 700,000-800,000 tonnes per month. The government’s tax structure on these fuels includes a petroleum development levy (PDL) of Rs60 per litre on petrol and Rs50 per litre on HSD, along with customs duties ranging from Rs18 to Rs22 per litre on both fuels. These levies and duties contribute significantly to the government’s revenue collection. However, they also make fuel prices susceptible to fluctuations in international markets and exchange rates.

Read More: Netizens expresses fury with memes on petrol price hike

The recent surge in fuel prices in Pakistan, driven by international market dynamics and domestic tax policies, has significant implications for the country’s economy and its citizens. It affects the daily lives of people, increases inflationary pressures, and challenges household budgets. As the government grapples with the need to maintain revenue streams while alleviating the burden on its people, finding a balance that ensures economic stability and social well-being remains a complex task.