Walkouts over POL price hike continue
05 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and PPP-led government's coalition partner, Awami National Party (ANP) on Tuesday staged walkout from the Senate over recent hike in POL prices.
The PML-N senators walked out twice, saying that recent hike was unjustifiable and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) was not answerable to anyone. ANP Senator Haji Adeel expressed no confidence over Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum Dr Asim's remarks. Asim tried to defend the increase in POL prices.
Asim told the senators that OGRA was determining POL prices in a transparent manner. His remarks irked Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari and he said OGRA was answerable to both the Houses. He also said that OGRA officials should be present in the Senate to respond to lawmakers' questions. The chairman said the assertion by the adviser that OGRA was not answerable to anyone was annoying. He also said that OGRA, and not the adviser, should have responded to the questions raised by the senators, as the Petroleum Ministry did not fix fuel prices. After the proceedings, the parliamentary leaders and leaders of the House and opposition should sit and discuss a way out.
Concluding the debate, Dr Asim said no hidden taxes were being charged by the government in terms of petroleum products, adding that the formula evolved by OGRA for monitoring of prices was transparent and there was no fudging whatsoever in the prices fixing mechanism.
Earlier, a motion was moved by opposition and treasury senators to discuss the recent hike in oil prices. The motion had been moved jointly by leader of the opposition Senator Ishaq Dar, Begum Nuzhat Sadiq, Col (r) Tahir Mashhadi, Zahid Khan, Afrasiab Khattak, Haji Adeel and Shahi Syed.
The adviser also brushed aside the impression that the federal government used the GST collected on POL products and said that it was divided between the federal and provincial governments.
"Out of the total Rs 323 billion, the federal government got Rs 129 billion while the rest were transferred to the provinces. About raise in CNG prices." The adviser said the CNG sector would not survive longer due to gas shortage in the country.
Earlier, opposition leader in the Senate Ishaq Dar urged the government to share with the House the mechanism to fix oil prices. He suggested that Petroleum Levy (PL) revenue should be reflected in the budget. He said that even the allied parties of the government had distanced themselves on hike in POL prices. Due to hike in POL prices, the prices of all essentials skyrocketed in last three days.
ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak said the government was unable to collect revenue through direct taxes and put burden on poor people through indirect taxation. He suggested that the government should announce a relief package for the people.
ANP Senator Haji Adeel said his party would not support any government move for which his party was not consulted.
MQM Senator Abdul Haseeb Khan said OGRA should be re-constituted, as it was not properly representing the people.