Increase in POL products prices challenged

From Abid Usman

LAHORE: A petition was filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday seeking reversal of recent increase in prices of petroleum products.
The petition has been filed by a citizen named Munir Ahmed through his lawyer Azhar Siddique. He has made the petroleum minister, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and others respondents in the case.
The petitioner argued that the increase in petroleum prices was illegal and pleaded the high court to declared the notification issued by the governments to jack up the prices null and void.
In an overnight move, the federal government increased the price of petrol by Rs22.20 per litre taking it to the Rs272 per litre. The new price of high-speed diesel has been fixed as Rs280 per litre after an increase of Rs17.20.
The prices of kerosene oil and light diesel oil have been increased by Rs12.90 and Rs9.68 per litre each. The kerosene oil reached at Rs202.73 per litre after a surge of Rs12.90 and light diesel oil at Rs196.68 per litre after an increase of Rs9.68.
The increase in petroleum prices is part of the government’s efforts to revive the much-needed loan programme of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that is stalled since September last.

On Wednesday, Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar presented the Finance Supplementary Bill 2023 in the lower house to fulfill the conditions of the international lender to secure the much-needed loan programme that would help the country stave off default.

Under the budget proposals, General Sales Tax (GST) on luxury items will be increased from 17% to 25% and Federal Excise Duty (FED) on business and first-class air tickets will also be increased to Rs20,000 or 50% — whichever is higher. The finance minister also proposed imposing 10% withholding adjustable advance income tax on bills of wedding functions, and an increase in FED on cigarettes, soft and sugary drinks.

The FED on cement will be raised from Rs1.5/kg to Rs2/kg and an increase in GST from standard 17% to 18% was also proposed in the Finance Supplementary Bill 2023, while GST will not be imposed on essential goods including wheat, rice, milk, pulses, vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs and meat.

Under the Finance Supplementary Bill 2023, Mr Dar said that the government had suggested a Rs40 billion increase in the budget of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to protect downtrodden segments of the society from the impact of increasing inflation.