Dar urges PM to cut petroleum prices by Rs20 per litre

By: Maqbool Ahmad      Published: 10:31 PM, 23 Feb, 2020
Dar urges PM to cut petroleum prices by Rs20 per litre
Former finance minister Ishaq Dar.–AFP file photo

Former finance minister Ishaq Dar has called upon the government to announce at least Rs20 per litre cut in the prices of petroleum products in March.

In a video message released on YouTube from London, Dar said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and his financial wizard Asad Umar would make tall claims about economy when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was in power from 2013-18. He said that Khan and Umar would tell people the PML-N government imposed excessive taxes on petroleum products and made them suffer. He said Khan would tell people that increase in diesel prices would destroy agriculture and then farmers. “Now Khan is doing all the things he has been critical of as opposition leader,” he said.

Dar said, “We tried to keep the prices as low as possible despite all the criticism.” He said the PML-N government tried to keep the prices of kerosene oil and light diesel low especially because the poor people buy these products. He said the PML-N government tried to maintain the prices of these products at Rs48 per litre on average and did not let it increase. He said the PML-N government also gave subsidy on these products when needed.

Dar said there was a huge difference in what Khan had been saying as opposition leader and what he had been doing after coming into power. He said that PTI government’s decision to devalue rupee hit the masses very hard. He said that 40 percent devaluation of rupee resulted in an unprecedented hike in the prices of daily use items.

Second, Dar said, Khan and his party men had been very critical of the petroleum development levy when they were in opposition. He said the PML-N government had set Rs8 and Rs10 per litre development levy on diesel and petrol, respectively, but the PTI government increased this levy to Rs17 and Rs20 per litre on diesel and petrol, respectively.

The PML-N leader said that prices of the petroleum prices went down considerably after the coronavirus outbreak in China. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan “Niazi” should take pity on this nation of 220 million people and not force it to come out on the streets. He said that ordinary citizens, farmers, businessmen and industrialists were in pain due to price hike.

Dar said the PTI government should withdraw the 100 percent increase in the petroleum development levy and pass on the impact of the decrease in the oil prices in the international market to poor Pakistanis. Since the government is going to review the prices of petroleum products in March, he said, it should announce at least Rs20 per cent per litre cut. He said the cut would not be a favour to the nation; it would simply be withdrawal of the increase in prices made by the incumbent government.

Dar, an accountant by profession and a member of the Senate of Pakistan from 2003 to 2018, has been on the run since December 2017. Some corruption cases are pending against him in Pakistani courts and they require him to appear in person and explain his position. He is currently based in the United Kingdom under political asylum status.