Rise in Petroleum Prices

Enterprise - - Letters -

The in­creas­ing in­ter­na­tional price of oil cou­pled with the de­val­u­a­tion of the ru­pee had made im­port­ing oil more ex­pen­sive than ever. Now, in­stead of a grad­ual in­crease, there has been a sud­den hike of Rs7.54 in the price per litre of petrol, Rs14 per litre for diesel and Rs3.36 for kerosene oil. The price in­crease is an in­dict­ment of the eco­nomic man­age­ment of the pre­vi­ous govern­ment. Our for­eign ex­change re­serves are less than $10 bil­lion as most of the re­serves are spent on debt-ser­vic­ing. The PML-N govern­ment’s plan was to bor­row a lot of money from for­eign in­sti­tu­tions and gov­ern­ments to ini­ti­ate in­fra­struc­ture projects which would then gen­er­ate rev­enue through in­creased ex­ports. That has not yet come to pass, leav­ing the state scram­bling to de­vise ways to bridge the fis­cal deficit.

An ar­gu­ment can still be made that the in­crease in petroleum prices is un­jus­ti­fied. Re­mov­ing sub­si­dies on es­sen­tial goods dis­pro­por­tion­ately hits the poor. But this too is a re­sult of the pre­vi­ous govern­ment’s pol­icy and per­for­mance. It spent its four years in power tak­ing dic­ta­tion from the IMF and in­creas­ing in­di­rect taxes and re­mov­ing sub­si­dies. We need to de­cide if we as a na­tion want to con­tinue bal­anc­ing the books by mak­ing the poor and the mid­dle class pay more or if we will fi­nally get se­ri­ous about en­sur­ing that the rich pay their fair share of taxes. Su­maiyya Rashid,


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