The All Pakistan Petrol Pumps Dealers Association has called off a nationwide strike against the government’s failure to increase their profit margin. it was decided that the margin on petrol will be increased by 99 paisas to Rs4.90 per litre from the existing Rs3.91. There were also important promises about the future that the government has agreed to fulfill.
While the government has brazenly called the end of the strike its victory, it has once again proved that it is unable to resolve conflicts in time, allowing them to generate tensions and cause a lot of suffering to the masses. This is what happened earlier in the case of the TLP protests when the situation was allowed to worsen and go out of control with the government finally reaching an agreement that amounted to surrender. Failing to take any action against the hoarding and blackmarketing of fertilizers, the government blames the Sindh government for not stopping fertilizer companies of the province from providing additional stocks to the local dealers. This is happening at a time Kisan Ittehad has announced it would take to the roads if the peasants were not provided the much needed fertilizers at the sowing of the wheat.
Whatever settlement the goverment reaches contains seeds of future discord. The Petroleum Division has agreed “in principle” to the petroleum dealers’ demand that after six months (during June 2022) margins will be readjusted according to the level of inflation prevalent at the time. The dealers’ association suggested that in the subsequent adjustment, the margins might be fixed in percentage terms and the Petroleum Division would put its best efforts to obtain approval from the competent forum for revision of dealers’ margin up to 4.4pc of the selling price. The Petroleum Division has assured that it will put all its endeavours to defend the proposal for a 25pc increase in the existing margin of the dealers’ profit. As things stand the promise is no more than a lollypop. What will happen if the Petroleum Division fails to convince the ECC or the Cabinet? Like the unresolved issue of the expulsion of the French ambassador with the TLP, the failure to readjust the margins could give birth to another round of confrontation between the government and the petrol dealers.