Customers flood fuel outlets as dealers go on strike today – Journal

• Closure indefinitely following government failure to increase profit margin to 6 pc • Ministry says PSO, Shell and Total will remain open

LAHORE / KARACHI: The Pakistan Gasoline Pump Dealers Association on Wednesday announced a nationwide strike and the closure of gas stations from Thursday (today) indefinitely due to the government’s failure to increase the profit margin of dealers to 6%.

Shortly after the announcement, long lines of motorists were seen at gas pumps in several cities.

The association’s leaders, including its Punjab President Chaudhry Irfan Elahi, Lahore President Chaudhry Asif and Information Secretary Khwaja Atif, held a press conference at a local hotel.

Mr Atif said the government had failed to honor a pledge it made three years ago to increase the profit margin of dealers, adding that it had become difficult for them to operate gas stations in due to growing and uncontrolled inflation and rising oil prices. some products.

In 2014, he said, a report by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics suggested 4.25 rupees per liter as the cost of operating a station and that dealers should receive that amount as the price of the station. ‘exploitation. However, the government paid them Rs 3.91 per liter and also deducted Rs 0.65 per liter as withholding tax from these operating costs, he said.

Mr Atif further said the concessionaires had already called a strike from November 5, but withdrew it after Federal Energy Minister Hammad Azhar led a government team and held a meeting. with them on November 3 and agreed to respond to their requests.

The government had agreed to a 6% increase in the profit margin and asked for time until November 17, when it withdrew the strike call. However, Mr. Atif said, seven days have passed since the deadline and the government broke its promise that the association was forced to shut down stations indefinitely or until acceptance. of their requests.

In a statement, the head of the association’s Bahawalpur branch, Muhammad Yaseen, said no vehicles except ambulances and Rescue 1122 vans would be refueled during the strike.

A spokesperson for the Petroleum Ministry claimed it had sent a summary to the cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to increase the profit margin of dealers and was awaiting its approval. He added that the federal cabinet would make a decision on increasing the profit margin within 10 days.

“However, the oil will be available at all PSO, Shell and Total stations across the country,” he said, adding that tankers had been sent to these stations to ensure supplies to the public.

On the other hand, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar tried to calm the situation by tweeting that “we are in contact with the association of oil traders. A summary concerning the revision of their margins has already been submitted to the Economic Coordination Committee (CEC) and a decision will be taken at its next session ”.

Following the announcement of the strike, consumers in many parts of the country were seen rushing to gas pumps to fill their fuel tanks, as many stations began to close from the evening causing severe damage. difficulties for vehicle owners.

Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) chairman Abdul Sami Khan at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday also explained the government’s agreement to increase the margin on sales after the association called on strike on November 5.

The Ministry of Petroleum had appealed to the PPDA which had been followed by several meetings, assuring the members of the association to integrate them before sending a summary to the ECC on an upward revision of the margin. However, the government made no further contact.

Sami Khan said that shortly after the strike was announced on Wednesday, the government issued a notification that oil companies, which operate a few gas pumps, have been urged to keep their stations open.

He said it was impossible to run gas stations at the current 3.25% margin due to the tripling of daily expenses due to high electricity tariffs and the wages of workers, ministry fees and provincial and federal annual taxes. He said the government increased the margin six months ago by 20 paisa per liter.

In a surprise gesture, the All Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association, which disagreed with the PPDA on various issues, fully supported the call for a strike, asking its members to turn off their pumps from 6 a.m. on Thursday. .

Posted in Dawn, le 25 November 2021

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