ISLAMABAD - With elections in sight, the government on Friday decided to bring down jacked up petroleum and CNG prices that worsened inflation and fuelled the fury of citizens over the past several months.
Usually the change in POL prices is broadcasted through a late night notification by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), however what appeared to be a step to gain political mileage, a hurriedly called press conference by Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain and Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira announced the reduced prices on Friday evening. The new prices will be in effect from June 16.
The price of petrol has been lowered by Rs 10.46 per litre, High Octane Blended Component (HOBC) by Rs 11.75 per litre, kerosene oil by Rs 5.26 per litre, High Speed Diesel (HSD) by Rs 6.08 per litre, and Light Diesel Oil (LDO) by Rs 5.02 per litre. Along with a cut in petroleum prices, the government has also slashed the price of CNG by Rs 4.82 per kg in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Potohar, and by Rs 4.37 in Sindh and Punjab.
The petroleum minister said that the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had decided to review oil and CNG prices on fortnightly basis to provide relief to the consumers. “If the fortnightly mechanism proved successful, then the review of oil prices on weekly basis will be introduced,” he said. The minister said that the government had also fixed the price of CNG at 60 percent parity of petrol for one year after consulting the CNG associations. He said that power consumers would also get relief with reduced POL prices.
Answering a question on slow progress on Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) imports, the minister said that the country was facing a loss of $1 billion per annum for not timely importing the commodity. He said the rate of imported gas ranged between $14 and $16 per MMBTU, whereas the rate of local reserves was $4 per MMBTU. Stressing for expediting gas imports, he said the two major gas reserves of Pakistan at Qadirpur and Sui would deplete by year 2020. He claimed that during his tenure in office, about 700-800 mmcfd gas was added in the national transmission system, and another 300 mmcfd would be added by the end of this year.