KARACHI - The OPEC crude oil prices have declined by almost 50 per cent since July this year. In July 2008 the OPEC crude oil prices hit the highest benchmark of 143.37 dollars per barrel, but since then the prices have tumbled to 71 dollars a barrel gradually this week, The Nation learnt. The 50 per cent decline in the international crude oil prices is unexpected as the government and the policy-makers were eyeing the oil prices above 150 dollars a barrel in the current financial year, an official said. Despite 50 per cent cut in the world oil prices the federal government had not provided any relief to the consumers. For example, since March this year the petrol prices had been raised by 40 per cent, to Rs87 per litre before recent downward adjustment of petrol prices to Rs81.80/liter. Till March this year the petrol price was kept on freeze at Rs 53 per litre by the Shaukat Aziz's government. However, the government had raised the price of diesel and kerosene oil further during recent revision as the government was eliminating oil subsidies to reduce burden on the fiscal side. Now the new price of diesel was Rs68/liter as against Rs38 in March. The policy-makers of the PPP government have repeatedly stated that a relief in the world oil prices would be shared with the consumers in the country, but practically it had not happened. It was evident from 50 per cent decline in the OPEC crude oil while the government had raised the diesel, kerosene oil and slightly reduced the petrol prices that tarnished the image of the government in the eyes of its voters and the general public. Analysts and the consumers are of the opinion that the democratic government should provide a significant relief to the consumers amid unexpected massive decline in the world oil prices. They said that the consumers were already facing a serious crisis of price hike since the arrival of the PPP-led government. The recent more than 30 per cent increase in the electricity tariff was not less than a new shock for the entire nation, they said, adding why the government was not reducing the domestic oil and electricity prices when the prices of crude oil have declined to unexpectedly low level of about 71 dollars a barrel. Worth noting is that the PPP government was extracting dual benefit from the domestic oil prices _ the government was recovering the backlog of difference in oil prices that was not passed on to the consumers by Shaukat Aziz's government while the recent hike in oil prices (when crude excelled 130 dollars/barrel) had also been shared with the consumers.