Miftah defends rise in oil prices following strong reaction from Nawaz, Zardari
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Tuesday defended the federal government's decision to increase the price of petrol after the reaction of his party supremo Nawaz Sharif and an important ally — PPP.
The government raised the price of Rs6.72 per liter on Monday night for the remaining fifteen days of the current month, taking it to 233.91 per liter, while the diesel rate has also risen to 244.44 per liter.
At today’s press conference, the Minister of Finance said that he had not said that he would not raise the price of petroleum products.
I never said I was not going to raise the price of gasoline, I said I was not going to impose taxes [on petroleum products] anymore, said Miftah.
“I stand behind all government decisions with full responsibility,” said the Minister of Finance, pointing out that no economic decision has been made without his input.
Zardari and Nawaz’s apprehensions
Miftah also said he respected the PPP leaders and would address their concerns about the decision regarding oil prices.
In his statement, PPP Co-Chair Asif Ali Zardari criticized the government for raising prices despite a massive appreciation of the rupee value and a drop in fuel prices in the international market.
Expressing concern over the development, the ex-president said that the PPP is part of the government, and there is a need to consult on this kind of decision.
“We are all here, as part of this government, to provide relief, and that should be our top priority. We are with the Prime Minister and will be meeting with him shortly to talk about the economics team.”
The government’s decision was met with considerable public criticism. Citizens believe that oil prices are on a downward trend around the world, but their prices are on an upward trend in Pakistan.
As people expressed their opinions about the decision of the government, a Twitter user tagged Maryam Nawaz and asked her to “talk to Mian Nawaz Sharif to take notice of the increase in the price of gasoline.”
Responding to the user, Maryam stated: “Mian Sahib strongly opposed this decision. He even said that I cannot burden the people with one more penny.”
She said that her father insisted that he disagreed and that if the government were subject to certain constraints, it should go ahead with the increase. Maryam said that the PML-N supremo disagreed with the decision to increase POL and left the meeting.
IMF programme ‘resumed’
After being harshly criticized, the Minister of Finance explained how fuel prices are calculated.
Replying to lead journalist Hamid Mir on Twitter, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said that the government did not impose any taxes on oil products.
Miftah Ismail said the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) takes Platt’s average prices adds cargo and premium paid by PSO in addition to these prices and multiplies that by the exchange rate.
Additionally, he added, it also “trues” the cost of the previous fortnight taking into account the rupees paid by PSO at the actual exchange rate in relation to the average used to estimate the cost of the preceding fortnight.
The minister said that the government did not put a new tax or levy on the price.
‘The price of petrol went up (and diesel went down) because the cost paid by PSO in the last fortnight was higher than the estimated cost by OGRA and also because the premium paid by PSO on gasoline has gone up and the premium paid on diesel has not changed.”