ECC likely to end uniform pricing of petrol

* If approved the move would cost consumers Rs 3 billion monthly g Would lead to price disparity at petrol stations even within a city

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) will meet today (Friday) and may end uniform pricing mechanism of petrol, which would result in an estimated Rs 3 billion monthly burden on the consumers and benefit the petroleum dealers and oil marketing companies.
The accumulative effect of the financial burden is likely to be transferred to the masses, including through an increase in the per litre price of diesel by 59 paisa. Sources in the Petroleum and Natural Resources Ministry disclosed to Daily Times that today’s meeting of the ECC is likely to approve the summary of the Petroleum Ministry through which it has sought an end to uniform pricing mechanism for petrol price by ending fixed margin on per litre price of petrol and increase in diesel price by 59paisa/litre by raising margin of the dealers and the OMCs. 
They said the petroleum ministry has, once again, sent a summery to the ECC and sought 40paisa/litre increase in the margin of the oil dealers, while a hike of 19paisa/litre in the margin of OMCs in diesel price. Earlier, on March 2, the Petroleum Ministry had withdrawn the summary it earlier forwarded to the ECC for final approval. “Petroleum and Natural Resources Ministry is all set to get the margin of oil marketing companies (OMCs) and petroleum dealers deregulated, resultantly per litre price of petrol would be different on different filling stations even within a city of the country,” a senior official at the Petroleum Ministry said on the condition of anonymity. 
He added that if today’s ECC meeting approves the summary then the already-burdened masses would bear additional Rs 3 billion burden every month. Interestingly, bringing stability in the prices of petroleum products (POL) was the part of the policy of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. When the PML-N was on opposition benches during outgoing the PPP regime it had floated a proposal to bring stability in the oil prices like in neighbouring India. 
However, the ruling party is now making all-out efforts to end the mechanism of uniform prices of POL across the country by deregulating the margin of companies and dealers over the sale of petrol. The sources also said that in line with the developed world the Petroleum Ministry was trying to get the margin of oil marketing companies (OMCs) and petroleum dealers deregulated over the sale of petrol. And, authorities concerned have drafted the summary after instructions were issued by the gurus at the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. 
Several meetings have so far been conducted between the dealers, OMCs and petroleum ministry officials to settle the matter with regard to ending the uniform pricing mechanism for petrol and hike in the margin of dealers and OMCs. “If the ECC gives its approval to the proposed deregulation of margin on petrol then the companies and dealers would be free to collect additional price at their will and petrol consumers would bear the brunt,” sources in the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority said.
Under the current mechanism, the government in its bid to save the consumers from additional price has fixed the OMCs margin on petrol at Rs 1.98/liter and the dealer’s margin at Rs 2.37/liter. Earlier, the OMCs and petroleum dealers had issued a strongly worded warning to the Petroleum Ministry and asked to fix the margin at Rs 4/litre. If the government fails to increase the margin then OMCs and dealers would go on strike for unlimited period in protest.

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