ISLAMABAD: After campaigning against fuel subsidies for more than a fortnight, the government decided on Thursday to keep oil prices unchanged, apparently until after Eidul Fitr.
It was only after a series of twists and turns, however, that Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb finally confirmed that prices would not be increased but without saying until when.
She told reporters in the afternoon that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had rejected a summary for an increase in oil prices, adding that those plagued by inflation could not be punished with a greater financial burden. heavy for the incompetence, inefficiency and blunders of the previous government.
Within half an hour, this statement was withdrawn. “The statement regarding petrol prices is withdrawn. It is being updated and will be released later,” said a second announcement, which was followed by another statement from the Minister confirming that the Prime Minister had rejected a resume for a price hike.
She said tough conditions of rising oil prices had been agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by Imran Khan’s government to guarantee loans, adding that the current government was trying to minimize the additional financial burden for those affected by the worst price hike caused by the incompetence of the Khan administration.
Rates expected to be readjusted on first business day after Eid to comply with IMF conditions
Interestingly, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) – which normally forwards a working document to the energy and finance ministries a day before the eve of each fortnight for price adjustment – does not had not even prepared a summary this time, given the last day falling on Saturday, the official working day.
The sources said that while price calculations were not yet finalized, product import data available as of April 25 suggested that the import parity price for high-speed gasoline and diesel had increased. of around Rs.10 and Rs.21 per litre, respectively.
This would result in a Price Differential Claim (PDC) to Petroleum Marketing Companies (OMC) at around Rs31 and Rs73 per litre.
In addition, the prices of kerosene and light diesel are also expected to increase by Rs44 and Rs64 per litre.
The total impact of the PDC payable to the WTO at these rates is estimated at Rs78 billion for May, against Rs69 billion in March and Rs62 billion over the first 24 days of April.
Sources said prices would be readjusted on the first working day after Eidul Fitr, as agreed with the IMF and publicly confirmed by Finance Minister Miftah Ismail to facilitate negotiations to expand the size of the loan program for another year.
Sources from Ogra, the oil division and the finance division confirmed that a summary of the price adjustment due April 30 was neither misplaced nor available on their file.
However, daily reports on all economic indicators, including price changes, continue to flow into the Prime Minister’s Office based on which the Prime Minister has decided not to announce any price changes before leaving for India. Saudi Arabia to avoid a shortage of petroleum products during panic buying. .
Meanwhile, Ogra has instructed the six chief secretaries of the provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Gilgit-Baltistan to manage visitors going to tourist areas and control traffic based on parking capacity around hilly areas and also avoid any shortage of essentials, including fuel, during Eid holidays.
The chief secretaries of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been particularly advised to delegate district coordination officers to manage affairs and avoid any untoward incidents.
The regulator has also ordered all OMC to maximize their supplies to the northern parts to ensure a steady and uninterrupted fuel supply to major consumer areas.
Ogra law enforcement teams have been tasked with inspecting and verifying stocks at depots and closely monitoring fuel supplies.
Posted in Dawn, April 29, 2022