ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed that maximum punitive action must be taken against all those responsible for artificial shortage of petrol in the country and ordered authorities concerned to ensure regular supplies within 48-72 hours.

The premier gave these instructions while chairing meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad on Tuesday.

While taking notice of the artificial shortage of petrol, the cabinet noted that OGRA and Petroleum Division have legal authority to physically enter and inspect oil companies’ storage facilities. The Cabinet directed Petroleum Ministry to form joint raiding teams comprising representatives of Petroleum Division, OGRA, FIA and District administrations.

The teams shall inspect all petrol depots and storage. They have all authority to enter any site and anyone found involved in hoarding shall face full force of law, including arrest and forced release of such stores.

Besides, any company found not maintaining the mandatory stocks and supply to its outlets, as per their license, shall face punitive actions, including suspension and cancellation of license and heavy fines. The Prime Minister directed that the Petroleum Division and OGRA take all actions necessary to ensure regular supplies within 48-72 hours.

Ministry of Energy informed the Cabinet that total supplies in June last year were 650,000 metric tons while supplies arranged 850,000 metric tons for June this year.

The Cabinet urged the public not to engage in panic buying as the stocks that are being hoarded will be identified and ensured to be available in the market and action be taken against hoarders. The Prime Minister directed the Minister of Petroleum and OGRA to ensure that every Oil Marketing Company maintains 21 days stock to meet its license conditions.