Commission to probe soaring trend in POL prices

The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the setting up of a Commission for enquiry into soaring trend in prices of petroleum products from 2001 until 2009.The government should not merely overburden the poor; the court said, it should also provide equal relief. A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan and Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed directed the Commission to submit its findings 30 days after the start of its inquiry. The Commission, headed by former Justice Rana Bhagwan Das, would examine certain aspects including pricing of petroleum products at domestic and international markets, profits earned by the government, powers of the Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC), Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and other related organizations. The Commission would consist of FA Ferguson (charted accountant firm), Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Petroleum, Ministry of Finance and representative of the people. The counsel quoted Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance, Shaukat Tarin, that the government had earned a profit of Rs12 billion (US$149.25 million) during the month of February and profit of Rs18 billion (US$223.8 million) was expected in March. (March 31, 2009)