Punjab’s transporters raise fares by 20 per cent after the federal government increased the petrol price by Rs25.58 per liter. As Punjab’s transporters raise fares, Opposition political parties are terming the move by the federal government as anti-people. The leaders of the opposition not only demanded relief for the poor people but also urged the government to make sure that Pakistanis are facilitated in the time of COVID-19.
Inter-city bus travel is now more expensive. A liter of petrol will now sell for a little over Rs100 again. The price of high speed diesel has been increased by Rs21.31, according to a notification issued by the Finance Division. The prices of kerosene and light diesel oil have gone up by Rs23.50 and Rs17.84, respectively.
“If you’re going to increase prices so much and so suddenly, obviously we will have to increase fares,” said one transporter.
Another driver said the cost of a one-way trip has gone up by Rs3,000-Rs4,000 because diesel prices have gone up. “We haven’t been able to get diesel for two days,” he said.
Passengers say they were already troubled by the outbreak and now the increase in fares will make things more difficult. “They’ve doubled the fares. No one is around to ask about the poor,” said one passenger.
The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) proposes new rates in a summary to the government at the end of every month. But this time the government increased the prices on the recommendation of the Petroleum Division.
The government has cut local prices four times since March 1, resulting in an overall drop of Rs42.1 per litre from Rs116.56 to Rs74.5 per litre (official rates). It was able to do so after international crude oil prices crashed.
However, the government doubled petrol tax from Rs15 as of January to Rs30 now. The government charges sales tax on petrol at 17%, but it keeps changing the amount of the petroleum levy, which is its main tool to increase tax revenue from oil consumption or pass on any relief to the consumers. Presently you pay Rs41 on every liter of petrol, including sales tax.
As the Punjab’s transporters raise fares, incumbent government is facing unprecedented criticism. Many analysts believe that the development may potentially create a serious legitimacy crisis for the PTI coalition. The COVID-19 outbreak has already seriously damaged economy and deprived people of their jobs and alternative sources of income, the petrol bomb seemed to be big challenge.
Punjab’s transporters raise fares: PTI’s anti-people policies?
The two main opposition leaders of the country, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, on Saturday rejected the federal government’s increase in petrol prices, terming it an “atrocity”.
Calling the price hike “sugar scandal part two”, Shehbaz Sharif said that the prime minister’s statements about caring for the people had been “proven hollow”.
“After the sugar mafia, the petrol mafia has won. The government has given the petrol mafia licence to loot the public. Thus proven that this is a government of inefficient, insensitive and oppressive people. An oppressive government cannot continue,” he said in a statement.
In a separate statement, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto also rejected the hike in prices. “Increasing petrol prices at a time when the public should be given further relief is anti-people. Those who have increased the prices by a record high are the same ones who used to criticise minor increases previously,” he said.
He claimed that the prime minister “could not support the sinking economy as a result of his own inefficiency by looting the people’s pockets”. “Imran Khan has allowed the mafias to benefit by first reducing the prices so it (fuel) could be hoarded and then increasing them. The premier has no worry about the people,” he added.
As the Punjab’s transporters raise fares, it is yet to be seen how does the government deal with the price hike after the public reacted strongly and opposition leaders are demanding an immediate review. Will PM Khan take notice of the development?