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LAHORE: The Oil Marketing Association of Pakistan (OMAP) on Wednesday appealed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Federal Minister for Energy (Power Division) and Chairman Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to allow them procuring oil products both from local refineries (as per allocated quota) and international market.

In the letter written by Chairman OMAC Tariq Wazir Ali, the federal government was informed that their high-volume business cannot operate without proper government support and cooperation of other related departments.

“For the last one year we have pummeled every door individually and collectively but the result is a cipher. In spite of the fact that we are working in full concurrence of Ogra rules and regulations, paying fees, dues, penalties (if any) regularly, invested billions of rupees on storage, contributed in national exchequer with huge taxes and duties but we are deprived of our rights to work freely,” the letter read.

According to the letter, the Federal Investigation Agency in its course of investigating identifying true causes and reasons of the shortage of petroleum products in June 2020 has unnecessarily and unlawfully blamed the OMCs. It is regrettable that the probe was done without being properly equipped with technical resources and lack of understanding of OMCs working, which has led to incorrect conclusions about the industry. The successive FIA inquiries have failed to understand the legal and regulatory framework under which the OMCs operate.

The OMCs are bound to keep 20 days stock and the Agency has been accusing those OMCs who kept the stock cover of hoarding. The OMCs which used their stock to ensure supplies to their retail outlets have been accused of not maintaining the cover.

Chairman Tariq Wazir Ali appealed to Imran Khan that witch-hunting of OMCs should cease immediately.

“If the FIA or any other government agency wants to investigate the sector or any company, it should be done without maligning and destroying the reputation of the company. If anyone is found guilty after an unbiased investigation, the OMAP supports the law to take its due course,” Tariq said.

As per the letter, the FIA has alleged that the OMCs maneuvered the berthing of vessels whereas there is clear evidence that OMCs do not have any role to play in this regard. Apparently, the Ministry for Energy Power Division took the decision to change the berthing of vessels in favor of companies that did not have ample stocks. The three big players pushed back the vessels of other OMCs.

“Quite shockingly, the FIA briefing claims increase in sales of big players as a positive outcome. The question needs to be asked how these big players have been absolved of any wrongdoing and how can a shortage be caused by the other OMCs when the top three players control almost 70 percent of the market. In reality, the market share has increased for the top players not because they have done something spectacular this year but because they failed to keep their outlets operational last year,” the letter added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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