Petroleum prices are expected to jump by approximately Rs10-14 per litre for the upcoming two weeks. Credible industry sources suggest that the government may contemplate increasing the prices of petroleum products in response to the increasing oil prices in the global markets.
If the government considers compensating for exchange rate losses, as opposed to the previous review where the authorities did not transfer the impact of rupee devaluation to the public, the hike in prices could increase to as much as Rs14 per litre.
The ex-depot price of petrol in the country is currently Rs272 per litre, and according to the workings of the oil sector, it is expected to reach Rs286.77 per litre in the next review if the government passes on the impact of global oil prices and exchange rate losses. However, even if the government does not adjust for exchange losses, petrol prices are still likely to increase due to higher global oil prices. The anticipated increase in the price of petrol is based on the current rate of taxes, with the government levying an Rs50 per litre charge on petrol and zero general sales tax.
The expected rise in petrol prices is based on the Rs5 per litre exchange loss adjustment of Pakistan State Oil (PSO), which the government did not include in the past to keep petrol prices low. The prices of petroleum products would have been higher following the massive depreciation of the rupee against the dollar in the last two and a half months when, under International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions, the market-based exchange rate was allowed.
On the other hand, the price of high-speed diesel (HSD) is expected to remain unchanged in the next review of prices, as the current ex-depot price of HSD is the same as the expected price for the next fortnightly period. The anticipated unchanged price of HSD is based on the Rs17.50 exchange loss adjustment of PSO, which was pending when the dollar price increased massively in the last few weeks. Sources suggest that if the government does not adjust for exchange rate losses, the diesel price may decrease by Rs15 per litre.
The government raised the petroleum levy on HSD to Rs50 per litre under IMF conditions in the last review of prices and charged no GST on it. According to sources, while the oil sector’s workings reflect a rise in petrol prices and no change in HSD, it is up to the government to decide. In the current scenario, the government has no option but to increase the price of petrol, as its financial space is already squeezed. Additionally, the government is making desperate efforts to revive the IMF program to shore up forex reserves.