NA session: Govt chastised over high oil prices

Taxes on petroleum products higher than in PPP term: Shah


Riazul Haq February 17, 2016
PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD:


Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah on Tuesday continued his tirade against the government accusing it of lining its own pockets.


“I should not lament as the prime minister does not even have an idea about the price of potatoes,” Shah said as he chastised the government for failing to reduce the price of petrol in accordance with the international price of oil.

Crude effects: Oil prices likely to rise by up to 16%

The opposition had picked up where it had left off on Monday, continuing to flay the government for its policies on oil prices and enforcing the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952, to stop workers of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from protesting.

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Shah restated his argument that the previous Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) regime had managed to control the petroleum prices better than the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The Opposition leader said that currently taxes as high as 69.5% had been imposed on diesel, while there was 20% tax on furnace oil and around 25.5% on petrol.

“We collected Rs16% sales tax on petrol which was Rs9.5. But now, it is Rs14.5 which was 25%,” he remarked urging the government to bring prices down to the ratio that was under the PPP.

Fuel prices may be slashed by 17%

“Do not line your pockets,” Shah said, adding that reduction in oil prices could have a trickledown effect

Shah went on to say that with around 70% of power generated in the country was using furnace oil, he said the fall in global oil prices had not impacted electricity prices. “From $109 per barrel, oil prices have nosedived to $25 per barrel but there seems no be no relief for the poor,” he said asking whether a joke was being played on the nation.

He was critical of the government’s attitude towards the agri-economy of the country but the PM seemed to have forgotten all of his promises.

Typically, the treasury benches were almost empty with barely two dozen members from the ruling party in attendance. Minister for Petroleum Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid and Minister of Defense Khwaja Asif visited the parliament briefly. Even the NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq left two hours into Tuesday’s session to attend an event.

Shah did not miss the opportunity to raise this in the house.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Asad Umar too came down hard on the government, stating that the latter cannot think of relief for poor as it was far too busy purchasing bulletproof cars, dogs and transmission line for Raiwind residence.

Falling oil prices - opportunity or threat

Umar dismissed government’s claims that oil prices in Pakistan were lowest in the region as lies, as he pointed to the likes of Sri Lanka, Iran and India which had lower prices.

“Load-shedding in parts of country where PML-N is not ruling is a clear message that you will get amenities only if you vote for them,” he said.

The PTI leader called the baton charge on protesting PIA workers in Karachi as a deliberate act as he rejected the government’s excuse that overstaffing was causing PIA to fail. The flag carrier, Umar explained, was failing due to the incompetent and corrupt blue-eyed management the government had employed at the airline.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Farooq Sattar said few capitalistic minds were controlling the prices of oil and had turned PIA into “great people to be grounded with.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th,  2016.

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