SWAT: Despite the sharp reduction in petroleum prices during the past few months, its impact has not trickled down to the grassroots level.
The hard-pressed people are still buying the daily use commodities on higher rates. Instead the cash-strapped government has given them the gift of increase in General Sales Tax (GST) on POL products to 22 percent from 17 to generate additional revenue.
Therefore, the common man is deprived of the fruits of the slash in the prices of petrol, high octane, kerosene, high speed diesel and light speed diesel.
Here the tall claims made by the government and the administrations that all possible measures would be taken to translate the substantial cut in the fuel prices into a visible decline in the prices of essential commodities becomes dependent on cheats for the general public.
Previously, whenever the prices of the petrol or the petroleum products increased, the traders and transporters without wasting time increased the rates of items and fares. But despite such a massive cut there seems no visible sign of reduction on their part. Hence, the full profits of the plunge in the global oil prices have been denied to public.
To add injury to the miseries of the people, most of the petrol pumps in cities and parts of rural areas remain closed claiming non-availability of the stock. While there were also witnessed long queues at PSO filling stations. Further complaints of selling petrol at old prices or in blacks were received from the cities and the rural areas which were mostly out of the sight of the district administrations and the price control committees.
People hailing from different parts, who gathered at the filling stations, said that the reduction in the price of petroleum products had become a headache for them instead of relief. They lashed out at the government officials for not implementing the announcement of the prime minister for ensuring availability of the essential item.
It is very unfortunate that the dealers and the major petroleum pump owners created self-made crises from time to time. They resorted to petrol shortage each time after the announcement to the reduction in POL prices was made by the Government. That has irked the masses in various cities and rural parts across the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, making their lives more miserable as they have to run from one filling station to the other to buy the commodity, whichever price available to them on the spot.
Hence the situation created panic like situation for the citizens in the filling stations due to the shortage and misconduct of the stations owners. They used harsh words for those demanding cut in old prices or were simply told to buy the commodity, where they like.
The helpless masses had no option other than to buy petrol at the choice rates of the stations owners. Whereas they had nowhere to complain the harsh treatment meted out to them. As the concerned authorities as usual resorted to lip service to console the public and let the routine going on unchanged at the mercy of the stations owners.
On the other hand, to wash his head a spokesman for the Petroleum Ministry claimed that there is no petrol crisis in the country, despite such an acute shortage. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources boasted that supplies are being made to petrol stations more than the demand, adding the reports of crises were baseless.
The spokesman of the ministry also assured that action would be taken against petrol pumps that were closed on Sunday. However, no action was seen in any part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa so far. Such claims are likely to expose the weakness and failure of the government to control the situation. Instead they resulted in the petrol crisis, set aside the repeated power breakdowns to smash the claims of the government into pieces every other time these are made.
Indeed, fuel is one of the most critical economic enablers or determiners which can either upset or stabilize any economy. The more the prices are high, the more the cost of production is high. Accordingly are the problems there to face by the commoners with meager resources or having less buying power.
Therefore, reduction of fuel prices is a welcome development. Nonetheless all the stakeholders should embrace it with a sense of responsibility. This is a clear-cut market force which should stir a downward slump of pump prices. In this vein, the Government directive to slash fuel prices is a sober and welcome development which the people applause for the projected direct effect in reduction of the cost of public transport fares, transportation of goods and reduced production costs of goods and services.
Besides, the same lead ultimately to reduction in prices of basic commodities, and increased buying power for the citizens. However the conditions that must be followed are that the same is applied properly through good compliance by all stakeholders.
But fuel dealers chose to ignore this development selfishly as they wanted to continue ripping-off their clients, whichever means possible despite the reduction. That’s why the trend continued to grassroots level, depriving the general public of their share. And they are yet to receive the benefits of the slide in oil prices.
Obviously the recent drop in the price is a form of relief for the car owners and the companies that buy fuel.The common men have no profit. Public transporters are yet to reduce the fares despite clear instructions to the effect from their concerned transport authorities. They still commute on the old fare rates and are not ready at all to pass on the benefit to the common people. The arguments between them and the commuters have become the order of day going on throughout the province.
And the transport authorities are silent, as if they do not want meddling between them. While the provincial government and the administrations are lip-glued over the issue and reluctant to establish the writ despite the federal government directives to take stern measures to bring down the prices of the essentials in proportion with fuel prices.
Nevertheless, it still stands to justify the reduction in the transport fares. The drop per liter should lead to reduction in the cost of transporting, agricultural and industrial produce etc. All should have their share out of the profit of the decline.=DNA