PM Shehbaz Sharif rejects proposal to hike petrol price

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ISLAMADAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority’s (OGRA) proposal to hike the prices of petroleum products in the country. PM Shehbaz, addressing the dinner of the coalition government leaders, said the government rejected the proposal for hiking the prices of petroleum products and vowed to take steps for the people’s welfare. “…we cannot further burden the already burdened masses […] we will have to address the challenges collectively,” the prime minister told the leaders in attendance. The decision was also announced through PML-N’s economy account on Twitter. On February 28, former prime minister Imran Khan announced a reduction of Rs10 per litre in petrol and diesel prices and a price freeze till the announcement of the budget for 2022-23. Earlier, the OGRA had sent a proposal to the Finance Division to increase the price of petrol by Rs21.50 and diesel by Rs51.30 (based on existing/current petroleum levy and GST According to the proposal, the OGRA had suggested an increase of Rs83.50 per litre of petrol and Rs119.88 per litre of diesel (based on the federal government’s advised petroleum levy of Rs30 and 17% GST). It is worth mentioning that currently, the petrol price in Pakistan is Rs149.86 while diesel is available at Rs144.15, with zero per cent levy and GST.  In a press conference alongside ex-finance minister Miftah Ismail, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi claimed that no country in the world was selling petrol cheaper than its original cost. Abbasi said the incumbent government was facing problems due to the former government’s mismanagement as they had set the price of petrol at Rs149, which burdened the national exchequer. Due to the PTI government’s policy of keeping the petroleum products’ rates fixed, the remaining Rs35 billion was paid through the national exchequer. “If the rates are kept the same till June, then the government will have to pay Rs240 billion through its own resources […] the rates were fixed by PTI to garner cheap publicity,” he said, while lashing out at the Imran Khan-led government’s to keep the rates fixed till the next budget. Had PM Shehbaz accepted OGRA’s summary, then the rate of petrol would be at Rs265 and diesel Rs235, Abbasi said and noted that the previous government had fixed the rates despite promising the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that they would hike them.

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