Former Vice President of FPCCI Atif Ikram Sheikh on Sunday said the fuel crisis should not be allowed to grow and those hoarding petrol and diesel should be dealt with an iron hand. The petroleum officials claim sufficient fuel supplies in the country but, on the ground, there is a visible shortage at pumps in some of the major cities, he said.
Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority has identified nineteen hoarding dumps in a letter to the Punjab chief secretary . He added that the masses are waiting to see decisive, example-setting action from the government.
Atif Ikram Sheikh, who has also served as Chairman of PVMA said in a statement that the concerned minister has also warned of strict consequences but it would have been better if the government had moved to cancel the licenses of hoarders instead of just threatening them.
The business leader said that the economic situation is so precarious that artificial shortages can disrupt the production cycle and hit financial markets, triggering a loss of confidence that can hit the entire economy.
The hoarders have got too used to taking advantage of international oil price swings precisely because they have never been made to pay for it. When prices shoot up, they shut down their pumps illegally and when it drops they hide stocks bought at higher prices to pass the difference to consumers.
This practice is not just limited to oi. It goes on in all sectors, with the authorities always watching from the side as manipulators grow rich and then exercise even greater influence on the officials.
Atif Ikram noted that it is ordinary consumers of commodities that end up being exploited, which must be protected as growth dropping, inflation, unemployment and the economy possibly plunging into default.
It’s very unfair that consumers pay extra for oil just because successive administrations ran the country so deep into debt that it can no longer survive without IMF bailouts and its harsh conditions.
After the recent Rs35 per liter jump in petrol price, masses are already worried by rumours of more increase.
He observed that this is a very serious crisis but solving it is not too difficult as the people behind it have been identified. The matter has been left to the relevant authorities to take action.