Govt makes U-turn on petroleum prices
03 March, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government on Saturday announced to reverse recent hike in the petroleum prices, apparently yielding to the public as well as political pressure against the 'uncalled for' step ahead of the upcoming general election.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf summoned Finance Minister Saleem H Mandviwala to the Prime Minister's House and ordered him to immediately withdraw an about 4% increase in petroleum prices announced on February 28, "as it was adversely affecting the lives of the common people".
The petroleum prices have returned to their February 28 level, just a day after the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority notified the increase.
Petroleum prices are re-adjusted at the end of every month and this was the 'last opportunity' with the current government to give relief to the people. The caretaker government will now decide about next revision in the petroleum prices on March 31.
The prime minister told the finance minister that the democratic government will not tolerate any additional burden on the people and will ensure provision of relief and succour to the common man. He emphasised that the government accords highest priority to the welfare of the people and will pursue policies to facilitate them.
"The people's government will not impose any additional burden on the common man and will do its utmost to alleviate the sufferings of the people," he said.
The finance minister briefed the prime minister about the overall economic situation in the country and the compulsions and rationale for recent increase in petroleum prices.
According to OGRA notification issued on Thursday, the price of petrol for the month of March was increased by Rs 3.53 per litre (3.42 per cent) to Rs 106.60, that of high speed diesel by Rs 4.35 (3.99 per cent) to Rs 113.56, kerosene oil by Rs 3.75 (3.76 per cent) to Rs 103.69 and light diesel oil by Rs 3.93 (4.2 per cent) to Rs 98.26.
After the withdrawal of the increase, the petrol will be retailed at Rs 103.70 per litre, diesel at 109.21 per litre, kerosene oil at Rs 99.90 per litre, and light diesel will be sold at its old price of Rs 94.98 per litre. The new prices are effective from Saturday midnight.
OGRA officials said they brought the prices to their previous level by reducing the petroleum development levy after making some adjustments in the pricing formula.
OGRA had reportedly recommended to the government to slash the rate of petroleum development levy to absorb the impact of increase in oil prices. The government, however, didn't accede to the proposal and went ahead with its decision.
The increase in prices sparked a nationwide fury on Friday, with common people, traders, civil society and political parties raising their voice against the move. The main opposition party – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – and ruling party's former partner in Centre and Sindh – MQM – staged a walkout from the Lower House, describing the hike a 'grave injustice' with the people already crushed by inflation.
MQM blamed OGRA for not consulting a parliamentary committee set up to review the petroleum prices. PML-N termed the increase 'incomprehensible' at a time when the government was left with only days in power.