ISLAMABAD - Refraining itself from taking an unpopular decision, the outgoing PML-N has deferred the POL price’s increase till June 7 and leaves it for the caretaker set-up to take the decision.

“Since our government ends today and the new prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene oil go in effect from tomorrow, therefore on the recommendations of the Ministry of Finance, the Prime Minister has decided to leave their prices unchanged till June 7 so that the incoming government can decide the new prices,” Finance Minister Miftah Ismail twitted.

On May 30, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had recommended an increase of up to 16.9 per cent in prices of petroleum products for June 2018 and the government was supposed to announce the decision on May 31. Usually, the government announces the new oil prices on the last day of every outgoing month which is applicable from the midnight of new month.

In a summary moved to the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) and Finance, the OGRA proposed an upward revision in oil prices and recommended up to 16.9 per cent increase in prices of different petroleum products.

According to the OGRA’s summary, an increase of Rs12.50 (12.7pc) was recommended in the price of HSD and Rs8.37 per litre (9.5pc) in the price of motor spirit (petrol). Similarly, Rs8.23 per litre (10.3pc) increase was recommended in the prices of kerosene oil and Rs11.65 (16.9pc) in light diesel oil (LDO) rate. Prices of all petroleum products, except kerosene, are deregulated and the OGRA only monitors their prices.

The OGRA summary if was executed by the consumers of high-speed diesel could face a price increase of Rs12.50 (12.7 per cent), which would take its per-litre price to Rs111.26 as compared to existing Rs98.76.

Petrol price was likely to go up from existing Rs87.70 to Rs96.07 per litre with a hike of Rs8.37 (9.5 per cent). Kerosene oil price was to be jacked up by Rs8.23, from Rs79.87 to Rs88.10 per litre.

Similarly, the price of light diesel oil was supposed to go up by Rs11.65, which will take its per-litre rate from Rs68.85 to Rs80.50.

For May, the government was charging Rs8 per litre petroleum levy on HSD, Rs10 per litre on petrol, Rs6 per litre on kerosene oil and Rs3 per litre on LDO. In addition, General Sales Tax of various percentages is also being charged on the petroleum products.

Currently against the standard rate of 17 per cent GST, the government is collecting 27.5 per cent sales tax on high speed diesel, 15 per cent on motor spirit, 12 per cent on kerosene and 11.5 per cent on light diesel oil. After the government decision of deferring the POL prices decision, the petroleum levy and GST will remain the same till June 7.

Keeping in view the public backlash, the outgoing government left the decision of increase to the upcoming caretaker set-up. The price hike recommended by OGRA was too high and even half of the recommended increase was huge and could create trouble for the PML-N government during upcoming general election.