The federal government on Saturday decided to keep the prices of petroleum products unchanged for the next 15 days.

In a statement issued from Washington, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said he had received a summary from Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) in which a slight reduction in the petrol price was recommended. However, the regulatory authority had sought an increase in the prices of light diesel oil (LDO) and high speed diesel (HSD), he added.

After consulting the prime minister, Dar said he decided to maintain the fuel prices for the next 15 days till October 31.

On Sept 30, Dar, in his maiden press conference, announced cutting petroleum products prices by up to Rs12.6 per litre or 5.4% by making adjustments in taxes but still keeping those significantly lower than the International Monetary Fund (IMF) requirement.

The petrol price was reduced to Rs224.80 per litre from Rs237.43 after a reduction of Rs12.63, said the finance minister. Effectively, the petrol prices, which is the most consumed petroleum item, were reduced by 5.3%.

The initially proposed reduction was lower than what Ishaq Dar announced, as he created room for deeper cuts by lowering the petroleum levy rate by Rs5 to Rs32.42 per litre. The former finance minister, Miftah Ismail, had increased the petroleum levy rate to Rs37.42 in August when he was in fact required to set it to a maximum of Rs30 per litre.

However, under the deal with the IMF, Pakistan was supposed to increase the petroleum levy to Rs40 per litre on October 1st. Ishaq Dar has, for now, kept the taxes lower than the IMF deal in the hope to secure some concessions during his first visit to Washington.

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