Tuesday, February 07, 2023
People in several cities across the country are rushing to petrol pumps as they fear that the commodity might get dearer as a result of the government's ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
As a result of the panic, long queues have lined up outside several fuel stations, particularly in Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Khushab, Gojrha and Chills among other cities.
In some areas, citizens are claiming that gasoline pumps are only providing Rs200 worth of petrol to motorcycle owners and Rs500 worth of fuel to car owners, while in others petrol seems to have gone extinct. Owners of fuel stations, on the other hand, have said petroleum products' dealers have restricted the supply.
The artificial shortage, as termed by officials, comes as banks have stopped financing and facilitating payments for imports due to depleting foreign exchange reserves, according to traders and industry sources.
Pakistan is facing a balance of payments crisis and the plummeting value of the rupee is pushing up the price of imported goods. Energy comprises a large chunk of Pakistan’s import bill.
Pakistan typically meets more than a third of its annual power demand, using imported natural gas, prices for which shot up following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Responding to the media reports about the fuel shortage and long queues of vehicles at the petrol pumps, State Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik asked where the fuel rationing is being imposed in the country. “After watching the news on Geo TV, I sent a message to OGRA [Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority] chairman and phoned the secretary,” he added.
The minister asked the news anchor to tell him the name of the specific area facing the fuel shortage.
Malik said that he held a meeting with representatives of all the oil marketing companies in the morning today, adding that the country has petrol stocks for over 20 days and diesel for over 25 days.
He also urged the fuel station owners not the create panic among the people and ruled out the possibility of an immediate hike in petrol prices.
“There is no chance of a hike in petrol prices before February 15,” he clarified.
New prices of petrol will be fixed as par the mechanism adopted by the federal government on the above date, he added.
The federal minister categorically rejected the reports about the imposition of fuel rationing, adding that some individuals might be involved in the hoarding of fuel. In the same breath, he also warned of administrative measures against the people involved in petrol hoarding.
Responding to a question, Malik said that the ongoing dialogues with the IMF have so far no link with the petrol prices in the country.