The Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association’s (PPDA) closure of fuel stations as part of their nationwide strike against the government’s failure to increase their profit margin started on Thursday.
Privately-owned petrol stations have halted operations throughout the country in pursuance of the call by the PPDA, however, as per the Ministry of Energy, state-owned stations of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and a few other companies including Hascol and Shell are still operational.
Deputy Commissioner Lahore Umer Sher Chatha said that 62 petrol stations of various companies, including the PSO, were available for motorists throughout the city.
Energy Minister Hammad Azhar said that he was aware of the issues faced by the owners of petrol pumps and reminded them that a summary regarding an increase in their profit margin was already with the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) and that the issue will be resolved in the next meeting.
The minister pushed the dealers to reevaluate their decision to go on a strike as it is causing the general public immense inconvenience.
However, he clearly stated that the government will not entertain any illegitimate demands. He said, “Some groups want to use this strike to have a raise of nine rupees”. The minister added, “A nine-rupee raise cannot be granted just to benefit a few companies. Legitimate demands will be accepted, illegitimate ones will be not”.
Meanwhile, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) spokesperson Imran Ghaznavi shared that the authority was in contact with oil marketing companies to ensure an uninterrupted supply of petroleum products.
Ghaznavi took to Twitter saying, “Ogra teams are in touch with stakeholders and engaged in smooth supplies”.
Earlier this week, Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) made an announcement that all petrol stations across the country would remain close on Nov 25 as a response to what they called the government’s alleged backtracking on its promise to increase petroleum commission.
However, the handout issued by the association does not mention an end date for the strike.
According to the handout, a meeting of petrol dealers was held at Faletti’s Hotel in Lahore on Saturday, where it was discussed that the government had promised to increase the dealers’ profit margin three years ago.
As per the press release, “The promise remains unfulfilled to date … [and] now, because of [growing] inflation and increase in the prices of petroleum products, it has become difficult for dealers to run fuel stations”.
It added that the dealers had previously given the call for a strike from November 5 but had withdrawn it after a government team, led by Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar, held a meeting with them on November 3 and agreed to fulfil their demands.
As per reports, the meeting had also constituted a committee headed by Petroleum Secretary Arshad Mahmood. The committee comprised stakeholders to ensure the implementation of the agreement for the hike in margins via approval from the ECC as well as the federal cabinet by November 15.
The press release stated, “the government had agreed to raise the profit margin by six per cent and sought time till November 17 to implement the decision”.
It added, “Dealers continued the supply of petroleum products in the public interest, but five days have passed since the agreed date of November 17 and the government representatives don’t seem serious”.
Govt says petrol will be available at all major outlets
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the petroleum ministry said last night that it had sent a summary pertaining to the increase in dealers’ profit margin to the ECC and was awaiting approval.
He further shared that the ministry was working on increasing the profit margin of oil marketing companies and dealers, adding that the federal cabinet would take a decision in this regard within ten days.
He said, “Fuel will be available at all Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Shell and Total stations in the country,” he said, adding that oil tankers had been sent to these stations.
The Ministry of Energy added that consumers can utilize petrol products from PSO, Gas and Oil Pakistan Limited, Hascol and Shell’s “company-operated” pumps.