Pakistan's petroleum dealers to launch nationwide strike today
Petroleum dealers in Pakistan will go on a nationwide strike on Thursday, accusing the Imran Khan-led government of failing to increase the profit margin for the dealers, the Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) said.
Though the PPDA did not mention when the strike will end, the association's chairman Abdul Sami Khan said that it will start at 6am (local time) on Thursday, according to a report by Dawn.
Issuing a handout, the PPDA said that a meeting of petroleum dealers was held in Lahore on November 20, where it was pointed out that the Pakistani government would raise the profit margin three years back.
The PPDA added that the above promise is still not fulfilled and it has become difficult for dealers to run fuel stations due to growing inflation and an increase in the prices of petroleum products, the Dawn report also said.
Previously, the dealers had announced the strike on November 5 but withdrew it after a government delegation held a meeting with them on November 3 to fulfil their demands.
The meeting led to the formation of a panel to ensure implementation of the agreement for an increase in profit margin through approval from the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) and the federal cabinet by November 15, Dawn further reported.
According to another statement, the government agreed to raise the profit margin by 6% and sought time till November 17 to implement the decision. But the government did not seem serious about this decision, the statement added.
Meanwhile, a day before the strike, traffic jams were reported in major cities of Pakistan including Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Karachi. Videos and posts on social media showed long queues at petrol stations in these cities as people hurried to fill fuel in their vehicles.
Pakistan's petroleum ministry has assured that vehicle fuel will be available in all major outlets - Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Shell and Total stations across the country. A ministry spokesperson said that a summary to increase the profit margin of petroleum dealers has already been sent to the ECC, the Dawn report said. The ministry is working on increasing the margin and a federal cabinet would take a decision soon.
Pakistan's economy is currently grappling with high inflation, current account deficit, historical currency devaluation and dwindling of foreign reserves. Amid the surging economical challenges, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to revive a stalled $6 billion funding program for Pakistan.