ISLAMABAD The strong gas mafia on Thursday raised the prices of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) by Rs 14 per kg without taking permission from government and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA). LPG Marketing Companies are exploiting the helpless consumers while the government has become a silent spectator in the whole exercise. LPG marketing companies have reportedly attacked consumers with LPG bomb as inaction on the part of the governments concerned authorities had added to sense of impunity to anti-market forces, giving them an opportunity to make a fast buck by raising prices blatantly. Prices of domestic cylinder were hiked by Rs 165 while commercial cylinder by Rs 635. According to the market sources, LPG prices could further increase in the coming weeks due to the start of winter season in which its demand enhances. This would further accelerate the inflation rate, which is already on the higher side. While confirming the raise in LPG prices, Chairman LPG Distributor Association, Irfan Khokhar said that prices of LPG have been increased by Rs 14 per kilogram, rates of domestic cylinder increased by Rs 165 and rates of commercial cylinder has been increased by Rs 635 without taking permission from the government and OGRA. He further said that the prices of LPG and gas cylinders have been increased in collusion with gas mafia and LPG marketing companies. He also informed that marketing companies increased prices of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) by Rs 14 per kg. Prices of domestic cylinder were hiked by Rs 165 while commercial cylinder by Rs 635. Similarly prices of LPG in Quetta, FATA, Swat, Muzaffarabad and Bagh were raised to Rs 160 per Kg. In Murree, Kohat the gas would be available at Rs 145 per kg while in Lahore, Peshawar and Sialkot Rs 130 per kg. The LPG prices would be Rs 135 per KG in Multan and Rs 110 in Karachi. Chairman of LPG Distributors Association Muhammad Irfan Kokhar termed the increase as unjustified saying the rising trend in LPG prices was badly affecting the already hard-pressed people. He said that the sudden increase in prices of LPG and cylinders would bring gas crisis in the country and residents of cold areas would have to face difficulties. He demanded to withdraw the increase in rates of LPG and cylinders as soon as possible. However, Iqbal Z Ahmad a leading businessman in LPG sector while talking to The Nation has categorically rejected the news items while terming it baseless and 100 percent white lie of LPG Distributors Association. He said, We have already written it to the government not to raise the prices of LPG as it has not changed the prices of petroleum products for December 2010. While answering a question, he assured that his companies had not raised the prices of LPG viewing the difficulties and capacity of the consumers. He further informed that LPG price had been increased in international market from $ 788 per ton to $ 924 per ton so LPG Distributors Association and other few distributors have assumed of surge in the price of LPG in the country, which was contrary to the market facts and figures regarding LPG price. Further, he suggested that the government should not link LPG prices to international market. It is important to mention here that reportedly the government has decided in principal to increase electricity tariff by about 2 percent per month for all consumer categories to meet a key condition of international lenders particularly the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for eliminating the energy sector circular debt that is around Rs 250 billion against Rs 116 billion in April this year. Furthermore, inflation in October surged to 15.33 percent might further increase due to hike in power, petroleum products and introduction of Reformed Grand Sales Tax (RGST) in the country. Again, traders have already increased the price of different items like clothes, shoes, crockery, readymade garments and bakery products by 15 to 25 percent in the backdrop of RGST to be implemented after approval from parliament. Shockingly prices of 4 to 5 hundred items will go up because of RGST. It is crystal clear that increase in prices of per unit electricity rates and hike in petroleum products and per kg LPG prices would consequently boost inflation rate in Pakistan.