‘Oil companies fleecing people at govt’s behest’
* Senator Zubairi says oil regulators stand to benefit most
By Zulfiqar Ghuman
ISLAMABAD: Oil marketing and distribution companies and refineries are fleecing people with the connivance of the government by charging 25 percent inflated prices of petroleum products in the country, claims Senator Rukhsana Zubairi.
“The government has allowed the oil companies and refineries to increase the petroleum prices by selectively using government directives which have caused an increase of 20 percent in prices of kerosene oil, light diesel oil and JP-4 and a 25 percent increase in diesel prices,” the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians’ (PPPP) senator told Daily Times on Friday.
Zubairi, who is also the member of a Senate’s sub-committee formed to analyse the price mechanism, said they had found evidence that the main cause of “undue inflation” was that all beneficiaries were the regulators of prices as the government’s directives were being applied selectively.
“The 2002 budget imposed an 11 percent regulatory duty on diesel and six percent on kerosene oil, light diesel and JP-4. Out of the duty, the government gets the revenue only on imported products which are 40 percent while the rest of the products are not imported and the duty goes to private companies’ pocket,” the PPPP senator said.
She said that Pakistanis had paid over Rs 160 billion since General Pervez Musharraf took over and the worst part of the scenario was that the national exchequer did not get any money.
“Now it stands proved that the petroleum price increases are not only due to an international price increase but due to other factors too. To allow those parties who have vested interests as price regulator is contrary to the Constitution and business ethics,” Zubairi said.
Commenting on a statement by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Salman Shah that petroleum prices had not affected the people, the PPPP senator said, “It is most unfortunate that Pakistan has a prime minister who has no idea of people’s suffering and is using his advisers to spread news based on figments of imagination.”
She asked the adviser to go out and see that fares and chappati prices had already been increased. “The present increase has put an impact on average household budget from Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 per month thus nullifying the increase in salaries,” she added.