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Islamabad: The federal government of Pakistan is facing criticism not only from the Opposition parties, but also from social and mainstream media for raising fuel prices ranging between 25.8 per cent and 66 per cent.

After the increase in prices announced late on Friday night and with immediate effect, the new price of petrol has been fixed at Rs100 (Dh2.19) per litre, high speed diesel price has been raised to Rs100.146 per litre, kerosene will now cost Rs59.06 per litre, while a litre of light diesel will cost Rs55.98.

According to a notification issued by the government, the new prices will remain in effect until July 31.

Prices slashed earlier

In the past, fuel prices used to be revised and announced at the turn of a new month. The latest hike has come unexpectedly as prices were revised only last month and were supposed to have remained in force until June 30.

Last month, on May 1, owing to a massive dip in international fuel prices, the federal government had slashed fuel prices, thereby fixing the price of petrol at Rs81.58, a cut of Rs15 per litre; and high speed diesel at Rs80.10 per litre, a cut of Rs30. However, these reduced prices didn’t go down well with oil companies .

A bolt from the blue

While talking to Gulf News, a number of local shopkeepers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi expressed their anger, saying they were feeling betrayed by the government that had earlier promised to provide relief to the masses.

Kashif, a local shopkeeper in Islamabad, said COVID-19 had already adversely affected his business and he was under huge financial constraint. The latest increase in petrol prices is only going to multiply the woes, he said.

Criticism by lawmakers

Members of the Opposition parties lambasted the government in parliament on Saturday for out-of-schedule and unprecedented hike in fuel prices. They displayed placards and banners bearing slogans that alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government was anti-poor and pro-mafia.

While taking part in the ongoing 2020-2021 Budget debate, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) members of the National Assembly, Rana Sanaullah and Khurram Dastgir, said that in the entire history of the country, petrol prices had never been raised by 34 per cent.

“The government has completely surrendered before the petrol mafia,” said Sanaullah. Even members from the ruling PTI were not comfortable with the recent hike in prices, he claimed.

FIA should investigate ‘mafia’ behind petrol crisis

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker Abdul Qadir Patel, while addressing the House, demanded that the Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) should probe and make public which oil companies stored petrol reserves and who owned them.

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

Earlier, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Shahbaz Sharif, in a Twitter post commented that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has dropped “a huge petrol bomb” on the masses while compromising public interests. (https://twitter.com/CMShehbaz/status/1276804872793284608)

Pakistan fuel prices lowest in region: Minister

Federal Minister for Petroleum, Omar Ayub Khan, responding to the Opposition benches over the recent hike in fuel prices, said that petrol prices were still lower in Pakistan as compared to the global market.

On his Twitter account too, the minister posted figures showing petrol prices in South East Asia were still higher than petrol prices in Pakistan even after the latest revision. (https://twitter.com/OmarAyubKhan/status/1276596899160694786)

Information Minister Shibli Faraz, meanwhile, tweeted that fuel prices were raised in Pakistan after an unprecedented global surge in petrol prices was witnessed. “Still, we are far behind other countries in the region with regard to increase in prices of petroleum products,” insisted Faraz in his tweet.