KARACHI - The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the petroleum secretary, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman and others, seeking their reply today on a plea pertaining to the gradual increase in petrol prices.

The plaintiff had informed the court that the actual price of the petrol was Rs62.38 per litre and all the amounts charged above that were different forms of taxes and duties.

A bench – headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar – heard the matter. Pakistan State Oil (PSO) deputy MD Yaqub Sattar, representatives of oil companies and other respondents appeared before the court.

The CJP expressed annoyance over increase in the prices of petroleum products because of apparently irrational and unjustifiable taxes.

He said that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and PSO have been looting the people. Under which laws and formulas those taxes were being taken from the people, who were being driven towards insanity due to incessant imposition of taxes, he asked.

Justice Saqib observed that the collusion of Ogra and PSO to increase prices of petrol had been brought to the apex court’s attention. He said that all institutions found responsible for increasing petroleum prices will be held accountable.

The CJP also expressed his suspicions over the process of import of petroleum products. He added that the institution should inform the court about the rule under which the Rs92.8 per litre price was fixed.

PSO DMD, giving briefing on determination of POL prices, told the court that different institutions were defaulters on payment of Rs300 billion to PSO.

Expressing his annoyance over it, the judge asked why they were not getting back this sum from those institutions. “It means you are running the matters by acquiring loans from banks,” he remarked.

Yaqub Sattar disclosed PSO has acquired loans amounting to Rs95 billion from banks. Every year a sum of Rs7 billion is paid to banks on account of interest, he revealed.

The PSO official admitted before the court that the actual price of petrol was Rs62.38 per litre. He said that Rs9.85 per litre tax was levied on the commodity, and inland freight equalisation margin of Rs8.83 was also added to the price.

He further informed the court that oil marketing companies were earning Rs2.55 per litre while dealers were earning a commission of Rs3.35 per litre.

The federal government imposed a 15 percent tax on petrol in May, which was reduced to 12 percent in June, Sattar said, adding that the price of petrol after levying tax was Rs91.96 per litre.

“All institutions will be held accountable,” Justice Nisar said, expressing his dissatisfaction with PSO’s briefing on the matter.

Advocate Faisal Siddiqui was assigned to assist the court. The bench, while seeking record of imports of petroleum products, auctions during the last six months and determination of prices, directed petroleum and energy secretaries, FBR chairman and other relevant persons to appear before it today (Firday).

Water problem

CJP Saqib Nisar on Thursday vowed to rid the residents of Karachi of the menace of the tanker mafia and ensure supple of clean drinking water to the people of whole Sindh.

A CJP-led bench heard a case pertaining to supply of potable water and sanitation in Sindh at the Supreme Court Karachi Registry.

The bench lauded the report presented by the SC-mandated Sindh Water Commission and ordered monthly performance reports on the progress made in providing clean drinking water and sanitation in the province.

The secretary for water informed the court that the Manchar Lake provided 300 million cubic metres of water annually.

The CJP expressed his displeasure at the failure of the authorities to clean the lake. “You did not spend [even a rupee] out of Rs14.5 billion [put aside for this purpose].

The state of the sea [waters] is deplorable,” he said to the secretary. Everyday 450 gallons of sewage is entering the sea, he remarked, questioning what the government had done to fix the problem in the past 10 years.

The top judge resolved that the court would itself monitor the progress in ensuring safe drinking water to the masses.

He further vowed to rid the residents of Karachi of the tanker mafia, adding that the citizens must be provided clean water no matter what.