In a positive development, the petroleum dealers called off a countrywide strike after successful talks with the government. The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet has assured the petroleum dealers of increasing profit margin on petrol from Rs3.91 to Rs4.90 and on diesel from Rs3.30 to Rs4.13.
The government and the association’s chairman, Abdul Sami Khan, reached the agreement after holding day-long negotiations. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Shaukat Tarin, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar and Petroleum Secretary Dr Arshad Mahmood were part of the government team.
Panic gripped cities across the country on Wednesday after petroleum dealers announced to go on a countrywide strike for an indefinite period. Due to which, the citizens faced severe difficulties while most of the pumps ran out of fuel.
Privately-owned petrol stations ceased operations across the country today in pursuance of the strike call, although state-owned stations of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and a few other companies including Shell and Hascol were still operational, according to the Ministry of Energy.
Petroleum dealers had claimed that the commission has not been increased for 17 years while daily expenses have increased, electricity bills have gone up, minimum wage has increased. The dealers claimed even, Social Security and Employees Old Age Benefit Institution has also increased contributions, Workers Welfare Board has also increased funds, annual government fees have increased, sales tax and local taxes have increased.
Even if the claims and demands of petroleum dealers are accepted as true, increasing commission is an administrative matter and it is not right to put millions of people in trouble in this regard. Petroleum prices in the country have now reached the highest history and still the citizens are getting expensive petrol while standing in queues, so this is a moment of concern for the state.
Sometimes oil tankers go on strike to blackmail the government and sometimes dealers shut down pumps and make life miserable for the people. It is a positive development that a settlement is reached between the government and the petroleum dealers, but blackmailing the state to get their demands met has become a common practice in Pakistan.
Therefore, the government should take a strong firm against petroleum dealers and tanker owners and stop them from blackmailing the government and challenging the writ of the state by putting the people in trouble.