ISLAMABAD - After days of rumours that delay in release of required funds to Pakistan State Oil (PSO) by the finance ministry was one of key reasons behind prevailing petrol crisis, the finance minister has come up with a categorical rejection of this notion.
Admitting mismanagement on the government’s part regarding prevailing petrol crisis in the country, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Monday however further mystified the situation by saying he feared a ‘conspiracy’ against the government has been hatched in petrol case.
Coming of such a statement from a responsible minister of the most important ministry of the state might help throw some more dust in public eye, but it definitely won’t help the inquiry ordered by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It is likely to be received as a folly by the saner circles who are already much disappointed by position of Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
Abbasi on Friday said people were primarily responsible for petrol shortage as there was a sharp rise in consumption following falling of fuel prices. Putting both these statements together, one would be led to believe that it were the people of Pakistan who have hatched a conspiracy against a government they voted in only a year ago.
“Ministry of finance has not stopped any LC (Letter of Credit) of Pakistan State Oil (PSO). Similarly, the ministry of finance does not purchase oil and we have no business with PSO”, said Dar told a press conference. The minister went of saying that finance ministry does not owe anything to the PSO.
“However, we have extended support to the PSO when it approached us,” the minister said, adding that Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has categorically stated that the finance ministry was not responsible for the crisis as it is neither purchasing nor selling the product.
Dar said PSO has not presented any report to the finance ministry regarding petrol shortage before starting of the crisis. The finance minister kept pointing figure to oil companies, particularly the PSO, giving an impression as if his colleague minister, Shahid Khaqan, was as ‘innocent’ as him in the whole episode. Senator Minister Ishaq Dar however admitted there had been mismanagement and added that Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was leading an investigation to determine who was behind the crisis. “Responsibility of the petrol shortage will be fixed after thorough investigation “, he said.
He also said action would be taken against those companies which had not kept adequate supplies of petrol. The minister dispelled the impression that the petrol crisis was linked to inadequate supply of funds. He said the oil companies including Pakistan State Oil are responsible for keeping insufficient stock. It was fault on their part that the people had to face difficulties. He hoped that the petrol crisis would be overcome in a matter of few days.
“The ministry of finance has (also) never stopped the payment of ministry of water and power. This is our top priority to clear the outstanding amount of power ministry,” he said, and added that they has approved to release 10 billion rupees today (Monday) to the power sector on the request of Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Asif. Dar said that Q-Block (which houses finance ministry) could not run every public department like PSO. He said the government has taken notice of the situation and efforts were afoot to improve the petrol supplies.
Earlier, Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Monday showed serious concerns over the prevailing petrol shortage and summoned on Friday top officials of ministries of Finance, Petroleum, Water and Power; Ogra; and PSO to inform about the actual situation. The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, which met under the chair of Senator Nasrin Jalil, decided to defer the agenda of its Friday meeting.
Chairperson of the Committee Senator Nasrin Jalil in her remarks said that masses are suffering due to the severe shortage of petrol in different parts of the country. The parliamentarians are elected representatives of the masses and it is the responsibility of the lawmakers to address the issues of people, she added.