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Petroleum dealers threaten countrywide strike

Stagnant commission on petroleum products cited as reason

Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) on Tuesday threatened the government with a countrywide strike if their demand regarding the increase in commission on petroleum products was not met till November 5.

The dealers said that they had been suffering for the last seven years but it has now become impossible for them to do business due to the increasing petroleum prices and sky-rocketing inflation. “The commission was Rs3.15 commission per liter when the per liter price of petrol was around Rs60 and it is still the same when the price has reached Rs 140,” said Khawaja Atif, the Secretary Information of Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association, while addressing a press conference at the Lahore Press Club.

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There are a total of 9,000 petrol pumps and 50 million liters of petrol is consumed daily across the country. Ultimately, the public will suffer if the supply of petroleum products is suspended. PPDA leaders announced a decisive strike against the government this time if their demand to increase the commission was not met.

Khawaja Atif said that PPDA Chairman Abdul Sami Khan would make a proper announcement of the strike by holding a press conference in Islamabad on October 28.

“We pay all the taxes, including the income tax, as well as the petroleum levy from the commission given on to us,” said Atif, pointing out that it had become quite difficult for them to run their businesses as everything is being sold at double the price. “We pay rents, taxes and bear all other expenses required to run a business. And this is not possible for us anymore,” he further said. “The government promised to increase the commission on POL products three years ago but that promise was not fulfilled,” said Khawaja Atif.

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He said the high prices of petroleum products and inflation had made it difficult for them to run their businesses while the government also did not implement the 2014 report and continuously ignored their demands to increase the commission.

“Three rupees is not sufficient for us when our cost is so high,” said the dealer.

Moreover, Atif stated, “The government is collecting Rs12.5 on every single liter while power tariffs have also been increased.”

“Now, it is a do-or-die situation, and we will go on strike and suspend supply throughout the country if the government refuses to accept our demands,” he said while noting that it is only in business that tax is deducted even before the arrival of the product in one’s custody. “We think that the government is pushing us to commit fraud, sell contaminated and poor quality petrol to the public which, of course, will damage the vehicles,” he stated.

Atif warned, “We don’t want to commit any fraud. We want to earn our livelihood through respectable and legal means. But we fear that the government will not accept our demands and will lead us to start committing fraud with the public.”

Another dealer, Syed Asad Gillani, was of the view that the big companies closed their depots at 4pm whenever the prices of the POL products were increased, and refused to sell the products, thus causing serious damage to the dealers for a long time.

The incumbent government, he said, had turned it into a complete business for itself and was not making any effort to ensure relief to the dealers. He added that the POL prices were regulated on a fortnightly basis and oil companies were minting money through different means like the closure of depots.

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