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Unjust hike in oil prices

THE substantial increase in oil prices is being criticised widely by people and the criticism resounded in the National Assembly and the Senate as well where the opposition parties raised the issue and staged a walk out to protest against the decision of the Government. The decision has also been challenged in the Lahore High Court where the petitioner has maintained that the increase was violation of Articles 9, 14 and 15 of the Constitution as it caused further inflation.
The Opposition has represented feelings and aspirations of the common man by raising the issue strongly in Parliament as the increase has triggered a price-hike and that too in the holy month of Ramazan. The governments have been giving Ramazan Package and the present government too followed the practice to provide relief to the people during the holy month but unfortunately its objective has been negated by massive unjust hike in prices of petroleum products. This is also in direct conflict with what the Prime Minister directed to the federal and provincial authorities a few days back asking them to ensure that there is no price-hike or hoarding during Ramazan. There is no doubt that the Government has to pass on the burden of the change in the prices of oil in the international market to the consumers as it cannot absorb the shock itself. However, it has been observed that the pricing mechanism is faulty and non-transparent and local prices are adjusted unjustly after any change in the price of crude oil in the international market. More over, the Government is not expected to pass the entire burden to the people in view of the combined effect of inflationary measures on the common man. It is known to all that petroleum prices are directly linked to prices of almost all goods and services and with this in view the Government should have adopted a reasonable attitude in deciding the new prices of petroleum products. The decision-makers ought to realize that the prices of POL products are being revised upward for the last several months and the burden is becoming unbearable. Decisions must not be based just on monetary considerations and instead sufferings of the people should be the criteria while taking critical decisions.