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Petroleum dealers’ nationwide strike for higher profit margin begins

Petroleum dealers’ nationwide strike for higher profit margin begins

The Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) nationwide strike and closure of fuel stations against the government's failure to increase their profit margin began on Thursday.

Privately-owned petrol stations have ceased operations across the country in pursuance of the call by the PPDA, although state-owned stations of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and a few other companies including Shell and Hascol are still operational, according to the Ministry of Energy.

Deputy Commissioner Lahore Umer Sheh Chatha said 62 petrol stations of different companies, including the PSO, were open for motorists across the city.

Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) had earlier this week announced that all petrol stations across the country would remain closed on Nov 25 (today) against what they called the government's alleged backtracking on its promise to raise petroleum commission.

However, the handout issued by the association did not mention when the strike will end. When contacted PPDA Chairman Abdul Sami Khan for clarity on the matter, he refused to give a definitive answer and said that a final decision will be taken today.

According to the PPDA handout, a meeting of petrol dealers was held at Faletti's Hotel in Lahore on Saturday, where it was noted that the government had promised to raise the dealers' profit margin three years ago.

"The promise remains unfulfilled to date ... [and] now, because of [growing] inflation and increase in the prices of petroleum products, it has become difficult for dealers to run fuel stations," the press release read.

It added that the dealers had previously given the call for a strike from November 5 but had withdrawn it after after a government team, led by Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar, held a meeting with them on November 3 and agreed to fulfil their demands.

According to a Dawn report, the meeting had also constituted a committee led by Petroleum Secretary Dr Arshad Mahmood and comprising stakeholders to ensure the implementation of the agreement for the increase in margins through approval from the ECC and the federal cabinet by November 15.

In that meeting, the press release said, "the government had agreed to raise the profit margin by six per cent and sought time till November 17 to implement the decision".

"Dealers continued the supply of petroleum products in public interest, but five days have passed since the agreed date of November 17 and the government representatives don't seem serious," the statement said.

On the other hand, a spokesperson for the petroleum ministry had last night said that it had sent a summary to increase dealers' profit margin to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) and was awaiting approval.

He said that the ministry was working on increasing the profit margin of oil marketing companies and dealers, adding that the federal cabinet would take a decision in this regard within ten days.

"Fuel will be available at all Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Shell and Total stations in country,” he said, adding that oil tankers had been sent to these stations.

The Ministry of Energy added that petrol products will be available at PSO, Gas and Oil Pakistan Limited, Hascol and Shell's "company-operated" pumps.

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