Pakistan on Friday kept the prices of petrol and high speed diesel (HSD) for next fortnight starting from April 01, 2023.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced the petroleum prices for next fortnight and kept the prices of petrol and diesel unchanged at Rs272 per liter and Rs293 per liter, respectively.
However, the prices of kerosene oil and light diesel oil have been reduced by Rs10 each to Rs180.29 and Rs174.68, respectively.
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Experts were anticipating a massive cut in the petroleum prices from the government due to sharp decline in international oil prices.
The benchmark Brent Crude recoded a decline of five period in international market during past one month providing ample room for the present government to reduce the prices. The Brent crude was $82 per barrel on February 27, 2023 and it reduced to $78 per barrel as of March 28, 2023.
Meanwhile, the other factor that had forced the government to massive increase the petroleum prices during past one year, the exchange rate. The rupee dollar parity during past one month remained muted as the interbank market was closed at PKR 283.55 to the dollar on March 28, 2023 after hitting all time low of PKR 285.09 on March 02, 2023.
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It’s good to hear that the Pakistani government is taking steps to reduce the burden on the lower income group by reducing the prices of petroleum products. It remains to be seen how much the prices will be reduced and how effective the plan will be in providing relief to the targeted groups. The decline in global oil prices is definitely a positive factor in this regard.
The government has not announced any relief to lower income group by subsidizing the rates of petroleum products.
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The government’s plan to reduce fuel prices for certain segments of society may face some hurdles due to the need to create additional resources and the IMF’s conditions. It will be interesting to see how the negotiations with the IMF progress and whether the government can implement its plan to provide relief to lower-income groups.
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Lower global oil prices present an opportunity for Pakistan to reduce the burden of high fuel prices on its people, especially the lower income group. However, the government needs to create resources to implement its plan for reducing petroleum prices for certain segments of society. This will require a comprehensive strategy that balances the government’s obligations to the International Monetary Fund with the need to provide relief to the people. The upcoming announcement on March 31, 2023, for the next fortnight’s petroleum prices, will be a key moment for the government to demonstrate its commitment to this cause.