ISLAMABAD - Showing some mercy for the inflation-stricken masses, the governing baboos are finally out to give some relief to them by means of slashing petroleum prices, this correspondent learnt on a reliably positive note.

Despite an expected hike ranging from Rs 3 to Rs 6 per litre in the prices of petroleum products from August 1 following the upward trend of oil prices in the international market and depreciation of Pak rupee against US dollar, the government has decided to reduce POL prices out of its considered opinion, according to the information leaked to this scribe.

“This would be an Eid gift from our side to you if approved,” a top petroleum mogul suddenly murmured. However, final announcement pertaining to provision of relief to the over-burdened masses by the PML-N government is likely on July 31 while Ogra would dispatch oil prices summary to the ministry of petroleum and natural resources for consideration on Tuesday (today).

The government, owing to a possibly colossal hike ranging between Rs 3 and 5.60/litre in the oil prices, is contemplating to offer a sigh of relief with the start of next month of August as officials at the petroleum ministry have revealed that it had been decided at the top government level not to pass on complete burden of POL price hike to oil consumers, however, partial burden of per litre price might be passed on to the consumers in the determination of next month oil prices. And, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) is expected that it would not increase the imposed charges of Inland Freight Equalisation Margin (IFEM) on POL products from August 1, they added.

“The government is thinking over two options in a bid to provide relief to the masses at the advent of Eidul Fitr. Under the first option, per litre prices of petrol and diesel will stay at current level while 50 per cent possible hike is to pass on to oil consumers,” a senior official at the petroleum ministry said, adding owing to possible gigantic raise in the fares of transport at the advent of Eid, a relief plan is under consideration under which the government would give heavy subsidy in case of providing total or 50 per cent relief to the masses in determining POL prices.

The PML-N government is facing severe criticism from the opposition parties ahead of the presidential election in the country, while passing on the total burden of oil price hike to the masses would ultimately create serious political problems for the incumbent regime.

But, as per sources in the finance ministry, the government, in a bid to maintain all POL prices at the current level, would have to pay high subsidy worth over Rs 10 billion through adjusting petroleum levy. However, due to a possible decrease in POL prices, the ratio of general sales tax (GST) already imposed on POL would fall. They also said that the finance ministry would not accept the proposal to provide total relief to the masses while a relief ranging between Rs 3 billion to Rs 5 billion is likely to be given.

Sources in Ogra said following the upward trend of oil prices in international market coupled with depreciation of rupee, per litre price of petrol was earlier meant to go up by Rs 3, high octane blended component (HOBC) by Rs 5.60, high speed diesel (HSD) by Rs 0.85, light diesel oil (LDO) by Rs 3.95 and kerosene oil is expected to go up by Rs 4.10 as per the calculations made so far.

Official sources further said that possible increase in the prices of fuel is likely to be passed on to the consumers later. They also said that to protect the masses from the impact of possible hike in oil prices, Ogra had also decided not to increase the ratio of IFEM which would be adjusted in future prices of oil.

It is worth mentioning that at present petrol is available at Rs 101.77/litre, high octane blended component (HOBC) Rs 126.77/litre, high speed diesel (HSD) Rs 106.76/litre, light diesel oil (LDO) Rs 92.17/litre and kerosene oil at Rs 96.29/litre in the open market of the country.

Last month, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) advised the government to absorb the increase in petrol and HSD. However, both petroleum and finance ministries decided to absorb partial increase and passed on Rs 0.66 instead of Rs 2/litre hike in petrol price while Rs 1.50/litre instead of Rs2.16/litre increase in HSD price ostensibly to provide a sigh of relief to the inflation-stricken masses.