News Desk |
The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet approved an increase in prices of petroleum products by up to nearly 10 per cent after the Prime Minister Imran Khan asked the ECC to revise a proposal by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) suggesting to raise petrol prices by over 14 percent.
Just after a month’s time, the OGRA had once again proposed to the government an increase of Rs14.37 per litre in the price of petroleum from the start of the next month – May. With an increase of Rs9.54 per litre in the price of petrol at a time when people are already reeling under skyrocketing inflation, the move to increase the petroleum products rates ahead of Ramadan has drawn severe criticism.
The ECC took the decision in its first meeting under the chairmanship of new Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
The new prices of petrol are Rs108.42 from the current Rs98.88 per litre – reflecting an increase of Rs9.54 per litre or 9.6%. With 4.2 per cent increase, the price of High Speed Diesel have reached to Rs122.32 from the Rs117.43 per litre.
The light diesel oil prices have gone up from Rs80.54 to Rs86.94 per litre and per litre price of kerosene oil to Rs96.76.
In April, OGRA moved the summary after the price of international crude oil rose by less than 2 per cent. Subsequently, the government had increased the per litre price of petrol and high-speed diesel by Rs6 to and of light speed diesel and kerosene oil by Rs3.
Fasten seatbelts, ‘difficulties’ ahead
As indicated by the former finance minister Asad Umar that the difficulties of citizens and the economy would continue for at least two years before the government’s economic reforms took root, the government has once again dropped petrol bomb on people just before the holy month of Ramadan.
On April 1, the ex-minister had defended ORGA’s decision to increase petroleum prices by up to 6.45 per cent saying the body had proposed double the price increase but that was not fully passed on to consumers.
When reminded that he used to advocate for Rs40-50 per litre price for petrol when in opposition, Umar had replied that the rates were double when the PTI came in the power. He had alleged that the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government had been playing with oil prices.
The minister had maintained that he had been absolutely correct in demanding those prices then because the international oil price had been in the range of $30-32 per barrel — and that it were now more than doubled.
He said the government had passed on just half of the increase in prices proposed by the regulator. Apparently, the half of the prices that were not increased last month, have now been increased.
Fuel Prices in India
The Indian media reported that the motorists tanking up at fuel depots have not been complaining for sometime now as there has been no drastic change in petrol and diesel prices over the past month-and-a-half, though there have been daily revisions.
Industry stakeholders, including retail dealers, say this has to do with the Lok Sabha polls which are underway and anticipate a steep hike in prices soon after the election results on May 23.
Currently, the media said, retail prices of petrol and diesel were Rs74.84 and Rs69.88, respectively, on March 10 and they were being sold at Rs75.33 and Rs68.61, respectively, on April 24. Most of the days, they said, the prices remained unchanged.