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Punjab police crack down on petroleum hoarders, seize huge quantity

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Punjab police crack down on petroleum hoarders, seize huge quantity

The Punjab police have launched a crackdown on the hoaders of petroleum products across the province and seized a huge quantity of petrol and diesel. 

The crackdown has been launched in the aftermath of shortage of POL products in several cities of the province. The seized quantity of fuel is worth around Rs630 million. 

Police teams raided several filling stations and storage depots in Sheikhupura, Kasur, Gujrat, Muzaffargarh and other cities and sezied oil tankers.

On the other hand, motorists are still facing difficulties in finding fuel at some petrol pumps in cities including Lahore. They are complaining about receiving limited fuel at some petrol pumps. There are reports of closure of many filling stations in Lahore.

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The shortage persists depsite tall claims by Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik who had earlier dispelled the rumours regarding shortage of petroleum products in the country. He told a press conference on Wednesday that Pakistan had sufficient stock of diesel and petrol. 

Warning the hoarders, Mr Malik said the government would cancel the licences if someone was found involved in creating artificial shortage.

He dispelled the impression that the government was immediately increasing the prices of petroleum products. The minister said the government was taking steps to improve the economy of the country.

Meanwhile, Inspector General of Punjab Police Dr Usman Anwar has ordered a joint crackdown with the district administration against the big depots and agencies that are illegally stockpiling petrol across the province.

In a statement, he directed RPOs and DPOs to ensure action under personal supervision against all petrol depots and agencies that are illegally hoarding and to bring to book those who cause hardship and distress to the citizens by creating artificial scarcity of petrol.

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The IG directed that indiscriminate action should be taken against the big depot owners who are creating artificial scarcity of petrol by illegal stockpiling and their reports should also be sent to the CPO office regularly.

Anwar said the depot owners involved in illegal business of hoarding do not deserve any concession, adding there should be no delay in strict action against such depot owners.

— Ogra asks Punjab CS to take action against hoarders —

The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has also written a letter to the provincial chief secretary, asking him to take action against those illegally hoarding petrol and diesel stocks. 

In a letter, Ogra’s Senior Executive Director – Enforcement Sohail Ahmed Tariq wrote that the authority had identified, through market intelligence, locations in Punjab that “might be in use to dump/store [petroleum] products for inventory gains”.

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These 19 locations were contributing to the existing shortage of petroleum products in some cities of Punjab, thereby committing illegal acts, he added.

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Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

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Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

The Sindh government has proposed up to 30 percent increase in salaries of its employees in the budget for next fiscal year 2024-25. 

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who also holds the portfolio of finance minister, presented the budget in the provincial assembly on Friday. 

He said the government had proposed 30pc increase in salaries of officials from Grade 1 to 6, adding that there was 25pc increase for officials of Grade 7 to 16. Similarly, officers from Grade 17 to 22 would get 22pc hike in their salaries. 

Furthermore, the provincial government has propsed 15pc increase in pension of the retired employees. 

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Presenting the budget with a total outlay of Rs3,352 billion, he said, the government had decided to allocate Rs959 billion for development projects.

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Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

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Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

The Sindh government has revised the minimum wage for unskilled labourers to Rs37,000 in line with decisions of the federal and Punjab governments. 

The minimum salary has been increased by Rs5,000 as previously it stood at Rs32,000. The proposal was laid forth by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah while presenting the budget for the fiscal year 2024-25. 

Meanwhile, the Sindh government has proposed up to 30 percent increase in salaries of its employees in the budget for next fiscal year 2024-25. 

The chief minister said the government had proposed 30pc increase in salaries of officials from Grade 1 to 6, adding that there was 25pc increase for officials of Grade 7 to 16. Similarly, officers from Grade 17 to 22 would get 22pc hike in their salaries. 

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Furthermore, the provincial government has propsed 15pc increase in pension of the retired employees.

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Budget 2024-25: Let’s figure out the cost of essentials

Budget 2024-25: Let’s figure out the cost of essentials

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Budget 2024-25: Let's figure out the cost of essentials

The federal government has announced a staggering Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) worth Rs1,500 billion. 

According to the budget document, all federal divisions have been allocated budget, except the Poverty Alleviation and Special Safety Division, which deals directly with matters concerning 95 million people who are living in abject poverty. 

Sadly, the Poverty Alleviation and Special Safety Division gets nothing in the PSDP 2024-25. 

Worse still, the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety does not have any minister as its head, rendering it almost moribund for more than 10 months. Earlier, Dr Sania Nishtar was chairing it during the PTI government, followed by Shazia Marri during the PDM government. 

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Last year, 12.5 million people slipped into poverty, which took it from 34.2pc to 39.4pc, according to the World Bank. 

The government has conveniently ignored the poor in the budget. Other than announcing Rs598.71billion under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), no substantial amount has been earmarked for reducing poverty. 

Your next read: BUDGET 2024-25 – A LAYMAN’S GUIDE 

Analysts believe that 27 percent increase in BISP from Rs471.3 billion to Rs598.71 billion has been made to placate the Pakistan Peoples Party, which may take the wind out of PML-N’s sails anytime. 

BURGEONING TAXES 

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On the other hand, if we delve into the details of burgeoning taxes, Sales Tax stands out in afflicting the poor the most. 

Now a sales tax of 10pc will be charged on stationery items. 

Tribal area residents who have been experiencing extreme poverty will now have to pay 6pc tax on the supply and import of plant machinery as well as electricity on both residential and commercial connections. 

Following the similar trajectory, a 10pc sales tax will be charged on the local supply of vermicelli, buns, poultry feed, cattle feed, sunflower seed meal, newsprint, books, oil cakes and tractors. 

On mobile phones whose value is less than $500 (Rs139,240), 18pc tax has been imposed. If the value of purchased phone exceeds $500, an existing rate of 25pc will remain unchanged. 

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Earlier, the retailers of leather and textile products who paid 15pc sales tax will now have to pay 18pc tax. 

Drug prices will increase massively as the sales tax on raw materials used in production of pharmaceutical items has been raised to 18pc from 1pc. This will be applicable on medical treatment, diagnostic equipment, heart surgery, neurosurgery, electrophysiology, endoscopy, endosurgery, oncology, urology, gynaecology, disposables and other medical equipment.

Besides, 20pc sales tax on import of syringes, needles, catheters, cannulae, blood collection tube of glass and blood collection tube of PET.

Moreover, charitable hospitals with 50 or more beds will pay 18pc sales tax on imported medical goods. 

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