The Country’s leading media group Jang and Geo TV continues to disseminate news which are misleading and contrary to the facts, apparently as part of its drive to propagate an anti-PTI narrative and shape a public opinion making them believe that the heightened inflation and economic meltdown – the Country has been going through – was caused by the PTI government, and not the PDM regime.
Last night, the interim government increased the price of petrol by Rs 26.02 and diesel by Rs 17.34 per litre for the next fortnight, and now their prices have soared to Rs 331.38 and 329.18 per litre respectively.
The notification released by the by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) with regard to the revised prices of petroleum products reveal that Rs 331.38 per litre petrol price includes Rs 60 Petroleum Development Levy (PDL) while the GST continues to remain zero. It would be the second fortnight of September 2023, making the petrol consumers liable to pay Rs 60 per litre levy. As in the previous fortnight from September 01-15, the federal government was charging the same amount of levy.
In a story published by both Jang newspaper and Geo News on September 16, misleading and baseless assertions were made that it was the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government which had set the threshold of Rs 60 petroleum levy in an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and now the interim regime were bound the comply that agreement.
In fact, almost just two months before their ouster from the power, in February 2022, the IMF approved the completion of the Sixth Review of its Programme for Pakistan under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). Under the new arrangements resulting in the completing of the Sixth Review, the PTI government had to ‘increase the PDL by Rs 4 per liter per month until a maximum of Rs 30 per liter was achieved which was already in place in the past.’ So, there was no condition whatso ever linked to the agreement that the petroleum levy would be imposed upto Rs 60 per litre.
After the Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) government led by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif took over, it struck a staff-level agreement with the IMF in September 2022 on the Combined Seventh and Eighth Reviews for the EFF, agreeing to jack up the petroleum levy upto Rs 50 per liter. And just a month before the PDM’s tenure was over, the IMF Executive Board approved a US$ 3 billion nine-month stand-by arrangement for Pakistan in July 2023, with a condition among others that the PDL would be further raised from Rs 50 to Rs 60 per litre and it was later duly incorporated in the Federal Budget 2023-24.
Winding up discussion on the Budget 2023-24 in the National Assembly on June 24, 2023, the then Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar clearly said that the government had accepted the majority of the demands put forward by the IMF including an increase in the petroleum levy rate to Rs 60 per liter.