ISLAMABAD: The coalition government led by the PML-N remained indecisive even on Saturday over the fortnightly fuel price change, which should have been announced on Thursday midnight but sources said it is now likely to be made on Sunday (today).

Based on the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority’s (Ogra) calculations, the per-litre price of diesel was to be increased by around Rs2 and that of petrol to be reduced by Rs7.

The delay of almost two days has triggered rumours that the government was facilitating petroleum dealers to sell their existing inventories bought at higher rates during the last fortnight.

However, petroleum dealers have dismissed the impression. “Petrol stations do not maintain huge inventories and fluctuation in rates was part of the business cycle,” Abdul Sami Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association, told Dawn.

He said consumers might shift elsewhere if a filling station owner went dry even for a day and kept waiting for prices to go down.

He, however, said the government was utterly confused given the fear that if the prices were lowered and the rupee continued to slide in the next fortnight, announcing a massive increase after 15 days would be extremely difficult.

“Therefore, I think the prices will be maintained for this fortnight,” the PPDA chairman said, adding that making an increase in the next fortnight would also have political repercussions as well.

Meanwhile, after her court appearance in Lahore on Sept 15, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz also rejected the idea of increasing oil prices and even criticised the government led by her uncle Shehbaz Sharif for exorbitant power bills.

“Even if it was our government, I do not support this decision to increase oil prices. Electricity bills have also put a heavy financial burden on the masses. I request the prime minister and the finance minister to review this decision,” she said.

She conveyed a similar comment last month when she tweeted a message on behalf of her father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, on Aug 16 after the government raised fuel prices: “Mian Sahib strongly opposed this decision. He even said that I cannot burden the people with the payment of one more penny.”

Read: Miftah on the defensive after PML-N supremo ‘strongly opposes’ petrol price hike

She was responding to the tweet made by a user requesting her to speak to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif to take notice of the increase in prices.

The reply to the tweet said that her father stressed that he was not on board, but if the government was bound by some constraint, it should go ahead with the increase.

Ms Nawaz even said her father disowned the government’s fuel increase decision and left a party meeting.

A similar statement was given by PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari who in a tweet distanced his party from the Shehbaz Sharif government’s decision to increase the prices of petroleum products.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2022

Categorized in: