ISLAMABAD: PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday distanced themselves from the Shahbaz Sharif government's decision to hike the prices of petroleum products as Finance Minister Miftah Ismail put up a strong defence of the decision.
In separate statements, both the key political leaders criticised the government for increasing the prices which were hiked on Monday despite a massive appreciation in rupee value and a decline in international oil prices.
Expressing concern over the development, former president Asif Ali Zardari said the PPP is a part of the government and supports it, but there must be consultations on such decisions.
“We are all here in this government to give relief to the people and that should be our top priority. We are with the prime minister and will meet him soon and talk about the economic team,” he added.
On Monday, the government cranked up the price of petrol by Rs6.72 per litre for the next fortnight.
“In the wake of fluctuations in petroleum prices in the international market and exchange rate variations, the government has decided to revise the existing prices or petroleum products to pass on the impact to the consumers,” the statement released by the Finance Division read.
The government's decision invited a lot of criticism from the public. Citizens are of the view that the prices of petroleum products are on a downward slope all over the world and yet their prices are being increased in Pakistan.
As people vented out their views on the government's decision, a user on Twitter tagged Maryam Nawaz and requested her to "speak to Mian Nawaz Sharif to take notice of the increase in the price of petrol."
Replying to the user, Maryam wrote: "Mian Sahib strongly opposed this decision. He even said that I cannot burden the people with [payment of] one more penny."
She said her father stressed that he was not on board but if the government was bound by some constraint, it should go ahead with the increase. Maryam said the PML-N supremo disowned the POL increase decision and left the meeting.
Earlier, after the government issued the notification of the new POL prices, Maryam, too, rejected the federal government's decision.
Reacting to a Twitter user, Maryam noted: "I stand by the people of Pakistan. I cannot support this decision."
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail explained how the petrol prices are calculated after he came under fire following the increase in petroleum prices.
Responding to senior journalist Hamid Mir on Twitter, he said the government has not imposed any tax on petroleum products.
Clarifying his position, the minister said that he did not say that the price will not be increased.
“Mir sahib I said I will not add one penny of new taxes or levies to the price. And I have not. But you know Hamid sahib that the fuel price summary is moved by OGRA and sent to Finance division through the Petroleum division. We get it only a few hours before prices are set.”
Miftah Ismail said: “I am an easy target. Which is fine. But this price change only reflects the change in PSO costs and doesn’t have any new taxes.”
He added that people are welcome to critique or criticise him.
“I know I am sincere to my country and have saved it from default and working to the best of my ability.”
On August 15, the federal finance ministry issued a notification regarding the new POL prices. While the government raised the price of petrol, it slashed the price of diesel by Rs0.51.
In line with the new changes, the price of petrol will be Rs233.91 per litre and diesel will be Rs244.44 per litre. Kerosene oil will be sold for Rs199.40 per litre after a cut of Rs1.67, and the price of light diesel oil will be Rs191.75 per litre with the addition of Rs0.43.
The new prices came into effect August 16, 2022.
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