ISLAMABAD - Ministry of Finance, in a bid to avoid decrease in the share of petroleum levy (PL) imposed in the prices of petroleum products (POL) in future, has once again expedited its efforts to get imposed fortnightly oil price revision mechanism in the country.

Sources privy to the development told TheNation that the finance ministry in its effort to avoid giving decrease in the ratio of PL already imposed in the prices of POL products has again accelerated its efforts to get notified oil prices after every 15 days in the country. However, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources (MPNR) has so far voiced opposition to pegging the new prices after every 15 days, which is being discussed at high level. They also told that finance ministry has sought working of last three months regarding oil price specification from Ogra and ministry of petroleum & natural resources.

Rejecting the proposal of finance ministry, both departments were of the view that the fortnightly specification of prices will give way to the hoarding of the petroleum products, over-charging, black-marketing which may later on spawn the crisis of the POL products in the country. It would not only create shortage of the commodity, disturbances but supply hassle as well. And, with this proposal to announce oil prices on fortnightly basis, the refineries, oil marketing companies and hoarders might cause exploitation of financial ravaged masses. Similarly, this suggestion to some extent is against the undertaking of petroleum ministry, which it had given to the Supreme Court during previous regime, they added.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court had already suspended the weekly oil pricing mechanism after an undertaking given by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources of outgoing PPP-led coalition government. The ministry had given an undertaking to the apex court and assured the court that it would revert to monthly price revision which it had imposed through a decision of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC). 

The system of fortnightly pricing was introduced in 2002 by the Oil Companies Advisory Committee and it continued till 2007. But in 2008 the monthly fuel pricing regime was implemented on the grounds that it was beneficial for the ordinary consumers.

A senior official at petroleum ministry, on the condition of not to be named, said that finance ministry is found hell bent to get enforced fortnightly specification of POL products and if its proposal faces criticism coupled with opposition of stakeholders then would pass the buck to the ECC.

Sources in Ogra also told that when the prices are set to go up the consumers under some fears start buying more fuel especially in the last days of the month. Under this situation the filling stations run short of the product and their demands with the oil companies go up. But the companies do not entertain filling station’s demands whenever the prices are set to go up and if the pumps go dry, Ogra comes down hard on the stations for not selling fuel and trying to stock it for next month. However, whenever the prices are set to decrease the oil companies pressurize the oil filling stations to buy more fuel. They also said that it is not easy for Ogra to monitor all the filling stations across the country. However, the oil marketing companies and the refineries are in favour of proposed fortnightly pricing regime.