Petrol price hike fuels Opp-govt rancour

Parliament proceedings adjourned without transacting any major business after opposition staged a walkout


​ Our Correspondents October 02, 2021
Petrol prices may increase by Rs2.31, taking the price to Rs68.58 per litre. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD:

 

The proceedings in both the houses of parliament got off to a stormy start on Friday as the opposition lodged strong protests against the hike in fuel prices and staged a walkout.

The opposition members denounced the government’s decision to increase the prices of fuel, demanding an immediate withdrawal of it. Holding placards and chanting anti-government slogans, the opposition members surrounded the dais of the speaker.

The mayhem began and took more acrimonious tones after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif lodged a strong protest against the refusal of Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri to allow the opposition to speak on the increase in the fuel prices. 

During the Question Hour, Khawaja Asif pointed out that no minister from the treasury benches was present to answer questions.

Later, the PML-N leader announced that his party would boycott the session, saying there was no point in putting up with it if the opposition was barred from speaking. Deploring the persistent lack of quorum, he said the House was being “ridiculed” by the ruling party.

“There is no point in sitting in the House if we are not allowed to speak,” he said in exasperation and staged a walkout with most opposition members following suit.

Pakistan Peoples Party’s Shazia Marri censured the government and asked, when the “gang that bombs people every month with petrol price hikes will be arrested?”

The deputy speaker switched off her microphone and was forced to adjourn the session without transacting any major business.

The government on Thursday had increased the price of petrol by Rs4 per litre and that of high-speed diesel (HSD) by Rs2 per litre. The prices of kerosene oil and light diesel oil (LDO) were increased by Rs7.05 and Rs8.82 per litre, respectively.‘Price bomb’

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Meanwhile, in Senate, too, the opposition members lashed out at the federal government.
Senator Raza Rabbani said that the people were being bombarded with an increase in petrol prices twice in 15 days, adding that the current rate was the “highest petrol price in Pakistan’s history”.

Responding to the criticism, Leader of the House Shahzad Waseem clarified that the government has allowed only a minor increase in petrol prices as compared to the rates suggested by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority. He said that even the oil-producing countries were witnessing a hike in petroleum prices.

Dr Shahzad remarked that the government was gradually reducing levy and sales tax on petroleum (POL) products to provide relief to the common man and said the government had increased the prices of petroleum products in “extreme compulsion due to the upward trend in the international market”.

"The government always made utmost effort to pass on the minimum impact of the increased oil prices to the common man by bearing maximum impact itself, while rejecting the advice of substantial increase by OGRA," he said.

Hitting back at the opposition members, the leader alleged that the opposition was blowing the matter out of proportion for mere “political point-scoring” and advised them to refrain from “playing to the gallery and undue criticism of the government”.

He was of the view that the opposition should show seriousness towards the legislative business of, and actively participate in, the House proceedings and not resort to hue and cry.

He assured that all ministers were present in the House to respond to the queries about the country's foreign policy or financial issues.

He claimed the prices would be revised downward as soon as the situation in the international market stabilised

Later, the Pakistan Peoples Party staged a walkout from the House, saying they wanted to get the answer from Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin.

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