Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail on Monday announced that the price of petroleum products would not be increased “immediately”, denying all claims regarding the petrol price hike that led to a massive increase in demand.
Speaking to a private television channel, the finance minister urged the people to stop filling their tanks out of panic, saying the prices will not be increased immediately.
Long queues were witnessed at petrol stations due to a “shortage” of diesel in various cities of Punjab on Monday. Moreover, reports suggested that several petrol stations had stopped selling diesel in the southern districts of Punjab.
Meanwhile, officials of the Kissan Ittehad have complained that due to the unavailability of diesel, the wheat crop was being affected.
However, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) on Monday rubbished reports of fuel shortage in parts of the country, maintaining that “adequate” supplies of petrol and diesel were available to cater to domestic needs.
An OGRA spokesperson said that speculations were rife about the shortage of diesel in a few pockets of Punjab, adding that “OGRA is monitoring the situation with the help of law enforcement agencies”.
He warned that anyone found involved in hoarding or stocking fuel with an intent to create a shortage would be dealt with in accordance with the law. But the All Pakistan Petrol Pumps Dealers Association had a different version to offer.
Nauman Ali Butt, the secretary-general of the association, said none of the oil companies except the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) was supplying fuel to the dealers. Butt claimed that all private companies had suspended their operations and that the PSO was the only supplier currently operational in the province.
He urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to look into the matter and ensure the provision of uninterrupted fuel supply to dealers in order to ensure the continued supply of petroleum products to the public.
“Dealers will bear huge losses if private companies continue to remain shut and it will eventually impact the overall fuel supply in the country.”
He urged the government to intervene and resolve the issue.
Also, the Burewala district administration on Monday sealed three petrol pumps for creating an artificial shortage of fuel. According to official sources, the city administration along with a petroleum department team launched a crackdown on hoarders and sealed three pumps after finding them involved in creating an artificial shortage of petrol.
The team also imposed a fine of Rs55,000 on the three petrol pumps, besides got registering FIRs against their owners. Separately, the finance minister mentioned that any law that can harm relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would not be amended.
“The government does not plan to reverse the State Bank (Amendment) Bill, 2021; however, the government will see after the IMF programme is completed next year,” he added.
Earlier, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had said he believes the laws that the previous government amended to meet the IMF’s conditions were wrong and needed to be reserved.