LAHORE    -     The Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front (PIAF) has condemned the government for increasing prices of three major petroleum products, particularly the rates of LPG, which will cause an additional burden of about Rs700 million on consumers in this month. The PIAF acting chairman Nasir Hameed and vice chairman Javed Siddiqi, in a joint statement issued here on Saturday, said that it is unfortunate that besides the 17% GST, the government has more than doubled the rate of petroleum levy on HSD in recent months to Rs.21 per litre from Rs.8 per litre, while levy on petrol has also been increased by 50% to Rs.17.20 per litre from Rs.10 per litre.

In recent months, the government has already increased general sales tax on all petroleum products to the standard rate of 17% to generate additional revenue. Until January this year, the government was charging 0.5% GST on LDO, 2% on kerosene, 8% on petrol and 13% on HSD. They observed that this hike in fuel rates would lead to increasing cost of production and cost of doing business as well. They argued that the high cost of doing business is hindering Pakistan in achieving its export target.Nasir Hameed said though the prices of oil in global market are fluctuating yet the authorities can keep the rates stable by reducing tax ratio which is highest in the region.

He lamented that the government increased the prices of three major petroleum products of high speed diesel (HSD), petrol and liquefied petroleum gas while reduced the prices of two comparatively insignificant products of kerosene and light diesel oil (LDO) whose consumption is not so high. He said that last month, the government had kept the petroleum prices unchanged to earn windfall revenue of over Rs4.5 billion despite up to 2.6pc cut worked out by Ogra for October. The government had instead increased the petroleum levy on HSD and petrol. He said that the government will be losing only about Rs.650 million if it keeps the prices largely unchanged for next month, but will earn a lot of goodwill at a time when opposition parties are holding big protest rallies. Besides, the price of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) has also been increased by Rs20 per 11kg domestic cylinder to Rs1,495 from the existing rate of Rs1,475. PIAF vice chairman Nasir Hameed severely criticized the federal government for ignoring the recommendations of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) regarding lowering the prices of petroleum products last month.