People were already greatly perturbed over increase in the tariff of power and gas and now the 6.45 percent raise in the prices of petroleum products by the government for the month of April is all set to spark a new wave of inflation in the country which will greatly hurt the common man.
The increase in POL prices will automatically see an increase in the freight and transportation charges and the prices of essential kitchen and other commodities will resultantly go up which will greatly squeeze the purchasing power of the people. Whilst the government is claiming to have taken steps to ensure ease of doing business but steps such as increase in interest rate and petroleum prices will keep the businessmen and investors away from entering into any new venture due to high cost. The fact of the matter is that when the PTI government came into power, the price of crude oil in the international market was $ 75 per barrel which has plummeted to about $ 68 per barrel showing the dip of about seven to eight percent. The recent appreciation of dollar by almost Rs 5 has mainly caused the massive increase in POL prices but on the other side the government is also mopping up tax rates on the petroleum products in the run up to the finalization of IMF bailout package. According to market experts, the landed cost of petrol stands at Rs 58.94 per litre but the government is selling it to the masses at Rs 98.89. Despite depreciation of the rupee, we understand the government could still extend relief to the people by at least maintaining the prices at the current level. We, therefore, will urge PM Imran Khan to personally look into the matter and withdraw the decision of the price hike. PTI had come to power with the slogan of change but like previous governments it is also resorting to raising revenue through petroleum related products to meet the revenue shortfall of FBR. Persistent increase in petroleum, gas and power prices is hurting the common man and greatly eroding their purchasing power. PM Imran Khan in his speeches always talk about poverty alleviation but the steps being taken by his government amount to killing the poor themselves. Instead of relying heavily on indirect taxes, reforms must be brought in the FBR to bring more people into the tax net besides leakages in gas and power sectors need to be plugged immediately to provide relief to the common consumers.