ISLAMABAD - Breaking from the tradition of monthly revision of the prices of petroleum products, the government has hiked the prices of petrol and diesel for the fortnight beginning today.

The price of petrol has been increased by Rs1.77 to Rs68.35 per litre and that of Hi Speed Diesel (HSD) by Rs2 to Rs79.22 per litre with effect from January 16 till January 31, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said yesterday.

Sources said the fortnightly increase in prices has been made due to sudden increase in the prices of petroleum products in the international market. The main opposition party, Pakistan People’s Party, has flayed the price hike saying this decision of the “blood thirsty” government would increase inflation.

The finance minister stated that the price had been increased in line with Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra)’s recommendation, while the price of HSD was being increased by cutting almost half of the increase recommended by Ogra. However, a source in the authority said the government was using Orga name.

“We have forwarded our recommendations for the month of January in December and we didn’t make any new calculations for the remaining month. The government has simply provided specific figures and directed the authority to give recommendations and we have re-sent without making any calculation,” the source added. The official said that Ogra had nothing to do with the increase. Despite repeated attempts Ogra spokesperson could not be contacted for comment on the issue.

The finance minister said the petroleum ministry and Ogra had recommended an increase of Rs1.77 per litre in the price of MS 92 RON Petrol, Rs3.94 per litre in the price of High Speed Diesel (HSD), Rs14.31 per litre in the price of Kerosene Oil and Rs10.11 per litre in the price of Light Diesel Oil (LDO), with effect from January 16.

Dar stated that, in line with the prime minister’s instructions to provide maximum relief to the common man, and keeping in view that Kerosene Oil and LDO is used by the low income segments of the country’s population, it has been decided to maintain the prices of Kerosene Oil and LDO at the current level till January 31.

This decision has been taken also keeping in view the fact that Kerosene Oil caters to the energy needs of the poor, especially in the winter season. The finance minister highlighted that, in order to maintain stability, prices have been maintained since April 2016 despite an increase of around 43 per cent in international oil prices during 2016.

He said the government has been absorbing the negative financial impact due to the government’s decisions to not pass on price increases to the end consumers.

He highlighted that, prior to today, only partial increase in MS Petrol and HSD was passed on to the end consumers for the month of December 2016 only, compared to Ogra’s recommendations. The government will bear a revenue loss of approximately Rs2.75 billion as a result, of this decision to not pass on the actual increase in petroleum products’ prices to the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan People’s Party Senator Saeed Ghani while reacting to the government’s decision to jack up petroleum prices said that the increase will give rise to inflation. In a statement issued here, he said that the PML-N government was “thirsty of people’s blood” and policies of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar were destroying Pakistan’s economy.

“The government has usurped powers from Ogra and crushed the people by increasing petroleum prices. The PML-N government has totally failed to increase exports to reduce the budget deficit and resorted to increasing in petroleum prices,” he said. Ghani said that the increase will be strongly protested in the parliament. He demanded that the government withdrew the increase in petroleum prices.

Midterm increase in POL prices