Landmines are explosive devices concealed under the ground and designed to blow when triggered by pressure. Targets set off landmines by stepping on them and become victims.
Landmines are often laid in groups, called minefields and these minefields often have unintended consequences. Blast mines are hidden a few centimeters under the ground and are triggered by someone just stepping on the pressure plate. Landmines, once they are set off, release fragments in all directions.
On February 28, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) sent a summary to hike the price of petrol by Rs55.78 per litre and the price of diesel by Rs68.87 per litrr. Ex-PM Imran Khan rejected the summary and instead announced a reduction in the price of petrol and diesel by up to Rs10 per litre. The ex-PM said that “there would be no increase in petrol and electricity prices until the next budget”.
This is in fact a Rs100 billion a month landmine - a hundred billion that the government never had. This is a hundred billion rupee loss to the government - a hundred billion that the government doesn’t have. If the government does not pay a hundred billion a month to the oil importing companies these companies will not be able to import oil. Red alert: there will be a shortage of petroleum products in the next few weeks.
Yes, as soon as PM Shehbaz Sharif steps on this landmine it will blow and release fragments in all directions. This is a landmine that will make a victim out of each and every Pakistani.
In early April, the National Power Control Center (NPCC), wrote a letter to the Power Division warning the government that the stock of High Speed Diesel (HSD) atvarious Independent Power Plants (IPPs) and Refined Furnace Oil (RFO) at power plants is “very low and sufficient only for two or three days operations. Subsequently, the plants’ operation will cease on account of non-availability of fuel if the stocks are not replenished”.
Lo and behold, Pakistan State Oil’s (PSO) circular debt is at a historical high of Rs658 billion with receivables of Rs520 billion. The half-a-trillion rupee worth of receivables are “posing a serious threat to the supply chain of petroleum products, including Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) and furnace oil, in the country”. Red alert: Pakistan’s stocks of jet fuel, High Speed Diesel (HSD) and petrol are down to roughly 10 days. There will be load-shedding and the cost of generating electricity will go through the roof. Another landmine which will blow, release fragments and cause damage in all directions.
In January, PTI’s mini-budget withdrew Rs350 billion worth of tax exemptions but promised the manufacturers that taxes will be refunded in an efficient manner. In March, the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA), representing some 300 drug makers, threatened to shut down production. PPMA later deferred its decision to close down drug manufacturing units across the country after fresh assurances from the FBR.
The fact is that the market size of our pharmaceutical sector is over Rs550 billion and roughly 88 percent of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) are imported (only 12 percent are produced locally). Red alert: if the pharmaceutical sector is unable to import APIs there will be a shortage of life saving drugs. Another landmine for the new government; another landmine that has the potential of blowing up and releasing fragments in all directions.
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