POL price hike adds fuel to Opp’s fire

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–PTI’s Raja Riaz joins Opp members in criticising govt, laments non-disbursement of development funds

–Energy minister claims prices of petroleum products in Pakistan are lowest in South Asia

ISLAMABAD: Opposition lawmakers and a member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Saturday lashed out at the government over a recent hike in petrol prices, among other national issues, during a session of the National Assembly.

On Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved a recommendation to hike up the prices of petroleum products after which petrol prices rose by Rs25.58 per litre.

In Saturday’s session of the Lower House, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Khurram Dastgir said that petrol prices were never increased by 34 per cent in the history of the country.

“The government is becoming a facilitator of mafias,” he said, adding that he can sense that the government benches are in a state of ‘fear’.

Describing other national issues, the PML-N lawmaker said that the culprits of the Sahiwal incident, where members of a family were killed in cold blood, did not receive any punishment.

Speaking on the issue of the sugar crisis, he said that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said that the prices of sugar rose after permission for exports was granted.

Addressing the House, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker Abdul Qadir Patel said that the FIA should probe who hoarded up petrol reserves, which exacerbated the national fuel crisis.

“The FIA should investigate who is behind this mafia and who is getting a cut out of it,” he said.

The treasury benches were shocked when PTI MNA from Faisalabad, Raja Riaz blasted the government over the exponential increase in the POL prices.

Riaz, in his speech in the NA, said the prices had been raised by Rs25 within a night and added that they were not receiving development funds despite winning the elections and being in the government. Who is getting these funds? he questioned.

PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal said an attempt was being made to turn the FIA into “NAB-2” and asked the police officers serving in the agency to reject politically-motivated orders.

PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah said the FIA had been assigned with the task of targeting the opposition and questioned the increase in the budget allocated for the interior ministry.

Addressing the National Assembly, he said the entire focus of the government was on propaganda. The increase in the POL prices was the biggest robbery in the country’s history and the government along with the petrol mafia had robbed the people of billions of rupees, the PML-N leader added.

Where were the intelligence agencies, he questioned, which, he added, had been tasked with targeting the opposition.

About the Interior Ministry budget, Rana Sana said the PML-N government in its last budget had allocated Rs109 billion for that, but the amount had been increased to Rs139bn last year and to Rs157bn for the next financial year.

‘PAKISTAN PETROL PRICE LOWEST IN REGION’:

Addressing the House, Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub said that prices of petroleum products in the country are lowest in South Asia.

Ayub said that the price of petrol has increased by 112 per cent over the last 46 days in the international crude oil market. “The price of OPEC [Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] basket has increased by 46pc last month,” he observed.

Crude oil prices in the world market have more than doubled since the recent slump, recovering to the pre-pandemic levels. By Saturday evening, OPEC basket, average of prices for petroleum blends produced by member states, stood at $37.18 a barrel (about 159 litres) from $28.45 per barrel last month today.

Ayub recalled that the government passed on the benefit of the oil market crash to the consumers “well in time”. “We will move forward as per the up and down in the international oil market,” he added.

Commenting on the 18-hour load-shedding in some of Karachi neighbourhoods, the minister said that power outage has been eliminated and currently it is being carried out only in feeders where losses are high.

“Our focus is now on bringing improvement in the distribution and transmission system,” he said, adding: “We are now pursuing clean and green projects in the energy sector.”

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