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Thursday May 30, 2024

‘Petrol may go down in Pakistan from Oct 1’

Murtaza Solangi says crackdown helped rupee to gain 30 to 35 against dollar

By Web Desk
September 23, 2023
A closeup of a fuel gun. — AFP/File
A closeup of a fuel gun. — AFP/File

The petroleum prices in Pakistan are expected to decline as local currency continued to recover against US dollar, interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said on Saturday.

Speaking to the media at the Karachi Press Club on Saturday, the information minister responded to the news report saying that the rupee gained Rs30 to Rs35 against the greenback due to administrative measures taken by the interim government in the last few days.

He was referring to the military-backed crackdown launched by the authorities against hoarders, currency smugglers and black marketeers after the rupee fell to a historic low of Rs308 in interbank and beyond Rs330 in the open market earlier this month.

The crackdown has helped the rupee gain significantly, recovering to 291.76 per dollar in the interbank market, its highest level since Sept 5.

The currency has gained 5% or Rs15 since then, supported by dollar inflows from exporters and remittances, as well as measures by the central bank to encourage legal channels for foreign exchange transactions.

“There are enough chances that the oil prices will be reduced in the next [fuel prices] announcement,” the minister said adding that the interim government has no role in fuel prices as they are linked with international oil rates.

“[…] people will get some benefit of reduction in the value of the dollar,” he remarked.

In the last fortnight review on Sept 16, the fuel prices reached a historic high after the caretaker government jacked up the petrol price by more than Rs26 and diesel price by over Rs17 per litre.

Currently, petrol is being sold at Rs331.1 per litre while high-speed diesel is available at Rs329.19 per litre.

‘Rupee likely to recover to 250’

Earlier this week, Chairman Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP) Malik Bostan expressed hope that the country’s remittances may increase by 10-20% in the backdrop of the government’s crackdown against hoarders, black marketeers and smugglers of dollars.

Talking to The News, he said because of the crackdown the foreign exchange companies, which earlier used to get around $5 million per day, are now getting $15 million per day i.e., 200% increase. For the same reason, he said the interbank and open market dollar rate has considerably come down.

He assured if the crackdown continued, the dollar would come down to below Rs250.

Bostan disclosed the crackdown against hoarders, black marketeers and smugglers of dollars has also exposed a nexus between black marketeers and banking staff.

Huge amount of dollars, he said, was stashed in lockers of different banks, and the bank staff in coordination with the black marketers, used these dollars for hawala/hundi.

Keys of these lockers were with the corrupt bank staff members, Bostan said, adding upon receiving messages from black marketers concerned, they (bankers) used to do the illegal trading of US dollars.