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June 28, 2020

NA heats up over pricey petrol

Top Story

June 28, 2020

NA heats up over pricey petrol

ISLAMABAD: The opposition parties Saturday grilled the government – both inside and outside Parliament – for record increase in the prices of petroleum products, terming it unacceptable, unbelievable, and unprecedented and asking Prime Minister Imran Khan to step down.

Top PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Khawaja Asif addressed a press conference and demanded resignation of the prime minister.

“Imran Khan should resign and the PTI should elect a new leader of the House,” Khawaja Asif said. He said Pakistan would reach a point of no return if Imran continued to pursue his policies and use the state institutions for settling personal scores.

“No person can be more coward than the one who uses the state institutions to satisfy his ego and to settle personal scores,” he said.

The two opposition leader strongly condemned increase in the prices of petroleum products.

“We reject increases in the prices of petroleum products, which is unacceptable, unbelievable, and unprecedented,” said Abbasi.

Asif said the government had presented a mini-budget even before passage of the federal budget, which was not an ordinary issue.

“There is no such precedent in the country’s history,” he said.

He recalled that when the PML-N left the government on May 31, 2018, Pakistan used to purchase petrol for Rs72.11 and impose Rs15.59 tax and it was available on the market for Rs87.70 per liter.

Today, he said Pakistan was getting petrol for Rs55.56 per liter and the government had imposing Rs44.55 as tax and selling the fuel at Rs100.10 per liter, whereas oil price on the international market was $41 per barrel.

“The actual prices of petrol should be Rs67 but it is being sold for Rs100.10 and the same is situation with the diesel that was raised by 25%,” he said.

Abbasi said the prime minister should have picked up the courage to take the National Assembly into confidence that his government had failed to strengthen economy and industry and increase tax collection.

He said in addition to raising the issue in Parliament, the opposition would go to the court of masses to tell them that there was yet another addition to the failures of the government. He said the government had committed dacoity on the pockets of the masses.

“The government has shifted the burden of its failures and incompetency to the people,” he said.

Khawaja Asif referred to Imran Khan’s two tweets of August 31, 2013 and January 01, 2018.

About first tweet, he said Imran Khan said, ”The government is constantly crushing the masses under the burden of increase in the prices of petroleum product, which will enhance the prices of essentials. Unacceptable.”

In his second tweet on January 01, 2018, he said Imran Khan tweeted, “Absolutely shameful. As to how the government has dropped petrol bomb on poor nation at start of new year.”

Instead of bringing tax reforms and stopping money laundering, the government is increasing petroleum products,” he said.

He said the two tweets were enough to remind Imran Khan of what he used to say and what he was doing now.

“Soon there will also be an increase in the tariff of electricity,” he said.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) central ameer Senator Sirajul Haq also rejected increase in the prices of petroleum products demanding that the government withdrew its decision.

PPP parliamentarian Abdul Qadar Patel demanded that the FIA should investigate as to who benefitted from the record increase in the prices of petroleum products.

“We never witnessed such an increase in the prices of petroleum products in a short period in the country’s history,” Patel said.

He said the FIA should investigate and tell which mafia stocked cheap petrol and pressured the government to increase the prices within no time.

“The mafia earned Rs7 billion in a matter of few hours,” he said.

He asked as to why the FIA could not see the misdeeds of the government and was eying only on the opposition parties.

Another opposition member, Ghulam Raza Rabbani said the current prices of petroleum products in Pakistan were not as per the rates on the international market.

PTI parliamentarian Raja Riaz also joined the opposition members in the protest saying the prices of petroleum products were increased by Rs25 per liter in the darkness of the night.

He said the government acting as facilitator of the mafia, allowed 34% hike in the fuel prices for the first time in country’s history.

“This government is by the mafia, for the mafia and from the mafia,” he said, adding that the mafia prevailed upon the government Friday night.

Khurram Dastgir observed that the government could not wait for four days to announce new prices of petroleum products proving that there was nothing in the revenue.

Responding to criticism from the opposition benches, Minister for Petroleum Omar Ayub Khan said it was the PML-N government, which used to protect the mafia.

He said it was the then PML-N government, which allowed 31% increase in the prices of petroleum products in just month.

He said the prices of oil on the international market had been raised by 112 percent whereas the government allowed just 34 percent increase.

The minister said there had been a sharp increase in the prices of oil on the international market, while the Pakistani rupee also devalued by Rs2 to 3 to a dollar.

As such, he said the calculated increase in the price of petrol was Rs31.58 but it was increased by Rs25.58 per liter. Similarly, he said the calculated increase in the price of diesel was Rs24.31 but was increased by Rs21.31 per liter. He insisted that the prices of petroleum products were lowest in the region.