ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday decided not to increase the prices of petroleum products till January 31, 2023.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced to keep the prices of petroleum products unchanged effective from January 16, 2023 till end of the month.
This is second consecutive fortnight in which the government has maintained the prices despite stalled program of International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The government on December 15, 2022 announced sharp cut in petroleum prices till December 31, 2022. Those prices have been kept unchanged effective from January 01, 2023.
According to the announcement the prices effective from January 01, 2023 are: High speed diesel price has been reduced by Rs7.5 per liter to Rs227.80. The price of petrol has been reduced by Rs10 per liter to Rs214.80. The price of kerosene oil has been reduced by Rs10 to Rs171.83. And the price of light diesel oil has been reduced by Rs10 to Rs169.
Experts were believing that the government would increase the prices because of IMF demand to raise the revenue. But the government despite the pressure opted for a popular decision.
The country is already facing high inflation due to massive depreciation in rupee value. The rupee fell to PKR 228.15 against the dollar by January 13, 2023. The further increase in petroleum prices would make it difficult for masses to manage their day to day affairs.
Pakistan is highly dependent on imported fuel to meet domestic demand.
The oil import bill of the country was at $7.7 billion during first five months (July – November) of the current fiscal year, registered a decline of 8.11 per cent when compared with $8.38 billion in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year.
The previous government of PTI had kept both the petroleum levy and sales tax at zero in order to provide relief to the masses. The PTI government also provided a huge subsidy on prices of petroleum products in order to lower the rates and provide relief to the masses.
However, former Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed through a vote of no-confidence motion on April 10, 2022. Since then the new coalition government led by PML-N increased the prices of petroleum products sharply.
The present government in the budget estimated to collect Rs855 billion as petroleum levy during the fiscal year 2022/2023.