KARACHI: Two important ministers of the Interim Government in Centre – Caretaker Minister for Information Murtaza Solangi and Caretaker Commerce and Industries Minister Gohar Ejaz on Saturday hinted at a reduction in the petrol price in the next fortnight’s review as Pakistani rupee has gained massively against US dollar.
“There are enough chances that the fuel prices will come down in the next announcement,” Caretaker Minister for Information Murtaza Solangi said while talking to media at Karachi Press Club.
Solangi said that the rupee gained Rs30 to Rs35 against the greenback due to administrative measures taken by the caretaker government in the last few days.
The ministers’ statements come after a back-to-back increase in petrol prices by a significant margin by the caretaker setup.
About general elections, Minister Solangi said that the interim government will play its due role in facilitating the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for free, fair and transparent polls in the country.
The minister went on to say that the government was taking various measures to support economic situation of the country and these measures have shown results recently in the decreasing price of dollar.
Meanwhile, Caretaker Commerce and Industries Minister Gohar Ejaz on Saturday expressed his hope that the nation would receive “good news” regarding petrol prices on October 1 — the date when the government is expected to announce revised prices of petroleum products — as the rupee had strengthened in recent days.
Speaking to the media alongside Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori in Karachi, he attributed the rise in inflation to the rupee devaluation against the dollar.
“Last year, the rupee was at 160 and this year, it reached 305,” he said, explaining that consequently, prices of all imported commodities, including energy and fuel, also increased.
“The [local] currency is now stabilising and … I am hopeful that you will receive good news regarding petrol price on [October] 1,” he said, adding that he was also hopeful about energy prices coming down.
The interim government first announced an increase of almost Rs18 per litre in the price of petrol on August 15 — just two days after caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar took oath for the top office. It again announced a massive hike of up to Rs18 per litre in fuel prices on September 1 and pushed through another hike in the prices of petrol by Rs26.02 per litre two weeks later.
The caretaker government has been facing severe criticism over the rise in petrol prices from various sectors, including the business community, transporters and politicians.
The interim government attributed the latest hike to the increasing trend of petroleum prices in the international market. The price hike was based on existing tax rates and import parity prices, mainly because of currency fluctuation and a slight increase in international oil prices.
The last increase in prices of petroleum products came on the heels of over 27.4 per cent increase in the August rate of inflation that would also have a lag effect on general prices in the country over the coming days and weeks.
Though there is zero general sales tax on all petroleum products, the government is charging Rs60 per litre petroleum development levy (PDL) on petrol and Rs50 each on high-speed diesel (HSD) and high octane blending component and 95RON petrol. The government is also charging about Rs18 to Rs22 per litre customs duty on petrol and HSD.
Petrol and HSD are the major revenue spinners with their monthly sales of about 700,000-800,000 tonnes per month compared to just 10,000 tonnes of monthly demand for kerosene.
Most of the transport sector runs on HSD. Its price is considered highly inflationary as it is mostly used in heavy transport vehicles, trains and agricultural engines like trucks, buses, tractors, tube wells and threshers, and particularly adds to the prices of vegetables and other eatables.