ISLAMABAD: The question of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s disqualification and a proposal for revising petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) prices were the discussions of the hour during the Senate session on Thursday, with Minister for Law and Justice Farooq Hamid Naek saying that the matter of the prime minister’s disqualification would not go further if the speaker deemed it pointless.
“The ECP cannot take up the issue of the prime minister’s disqualification until the National Assembly Speaker observes that a question of disqualification arises,” said Naek.
The minister said that whatever the decision of the ECP, it would be implemented and honoured, adding, “Yousaf Raza Gilani is still a member of the National Assembly and the elected prime minister of the country under the Constitution,” he stressed.
Senate Question Hour
Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain during the session said, “The government is working on a proposal for revising oil prices on a fortnightly basis and is finalising new pricing mechanism to solve the issue of a sudden raise in the prices of petroleum products.”
He informed the Senate that the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), on the request of the Petroleum Ministry, would most likely take up the proposal this month. He also said that the ECC would revise oil prices on a fortnightly basis in the wake of abrupt rise in the international market.
Answering various questions posed by the lawmakers, the minister said, “The ECC of the cabinet will finalise the new pricing mechanism. It (mechanism) will solve the issue of sudden raises in crude oil prices.”
Awami National Party (ANP) Senator Ilyas Bilour questioned why the government was increasing POL prices, saying, “The government drops a petroleum bomb every month to add to the miseries of poor people despite depletion in the international crude market.”
During the course of proceedings, the petroleum minister also said that the government shielded refineries from losses caused by frequent fluctuating global crude oil prices.
Government to reduce GST
The petroleum minister also informed the House that the government intended to reduce General Sales Tax (GST) on petroleum products to provide relief to the masses and consultations were underway with provinces in this regard.
“The purchase cost of petrol is Rs67.71 per litre while the consumer price is Rs87.75,” he said, adding, “Diesel is purchased at a rate of Rs73.1 and the consumer price is Rs95.78 per litre.”
Responding to a query by Muttahaida Qaumi Movement (MQM) senator Col (retd) Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, the minister for petroleum said that out of the total GST collected, 70% went to the provinces while 30% to the federation.
Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project
In response to a query by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) senator Talha Mehmood, Dr Asim admitted that there were some hurdles in the way of early completion of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project but did not elaborate further.
“Work on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project is in progress and will be completed by 2014,” he said, adding that the completion of the project would reduce gas shortage in the country.
Establishment of refineries in K-P
The petroleum minister also informed the Senate that negotiations between Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government were underway for the establishment of refineries in the province, a move which would help reduce shortage of gas in the province.
The minister said that a $2.5 billion project was underway for drilling five hundred exploratory wells in Sindh.