ISLAMABAD: Opposition members in the National Assembly on Friday registered a strong protest during the National Assembly session against the surge in petroleum prices, demanding the government withdraw the decision immediately.
During the session, presided over by NA Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, several members of the opposition protested against the Rs3.56 per litre increase in petrol price.
Naveed Qamar of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lashed out at the failure of tax generation policy, lamenting that the government was trying to achieve Federal Bureau Revenue (FBR) targets by burdening the poor.
“The government could give relief to the public by cutting sales tax on petrol and diesel,” he said.
Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl’s Aasia Nasir said that the government had been allowing increases in petroleum prices for the past four months. “The surge in petroleum prices has been causing inflation in the country,” she said, adding that the government must reconsider its decisions on petroleum prices.
Amir Dogar of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) declared the increase in petroleum prices “unjustified” and appealed for calling off the surge, while Jamshed Dasti lamented that the government was insensitive to the problems faced by the people.
Sahabzada Tariqullah of the Jamaat-e-Islami warned that the surge in kerosene prices will force the people to cut forests.
Responding to the arguments raised by the opposition leaders, Parliamentary Secretary for Cabinet Secretariat Raja Muhammad Javed Ikhlas told the National Assembly that the government was still paying Rs 4.2 billion per annum subsidy on diesel prices, and petroleum oil lubricants (POL) product prices were still lower in Pakistan as compared to the neighbouring countries.
He said POL product prices would be slashed in case a decrease was witnessed in the international markets. He further said that Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had proposed 31 per cent increase in POL prices but the prime minister had approved only 25 per cent increase on February 28. Every month, OGRA proposed adjustments in POL prices in the country in accordance with the international market, he added.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Finance Rana Afzal said that petrol price before the PML-N tenure was Rs113. “We gradually cut down petroleum prices to reflect international decreases and provided relief to the people,” he said.
He said that the present government had empowered banks to recover loans from the defaulters under a new law. Banks have been suffering huge losses of hundreds of billions of rupees due to loan defaults by people from different walks of life.
Responding to a calling attention notice moved by Rana Muhammad Hayat Khan in the National Assembly (NA), he clarified that the government does not waive off the loans but discretion to this effect rests with the banks. He said that a list of loan defaulters has already been presented to the Upper House.
The speaker referred the matter of loan defaulters to the committee concerned with the instructions to submit its report within 15 days.