Pakistan mulls oil import from Iran

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In the first phase,  action against illegal POL retail  outlets will simultaneously be taken in Punjab, Sindh and KPK which have already been geo mapped by customs besides choking off supply routes of smuggled POL products from Balochistan to the rest of the country

Naveed Miraj

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan government is mulling legalizing oil import from Iran. According to sources, talks in this regard are already under way. The purpose of this move is to check illegal oil import from Iran thus avoiding huge loss incurred due to illegal import.

It may be mentioned here that on the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan, operation against the sale of smuggled petroleum products in the country has been accelerated as this costs Rs 100 billion to Rs 150 billion loss to national kitty.

Official sources told this correspondent a comprehensive and well thought out action plan has been prepared to nab the oil smuggling racket without any discrimination.

“According to this plan, the crackdown against illegal outlets has been divided into two phase,” the sources said, adding, “In the first phase,  action against illegal POL retail  outlets will simultaneously be taken in Punjab, Sindh and KPK which have already been geo mapped by customs besides choking off supply routes of smuggled POL products from Balochistan to the rest of the country.”

These sources maintained that the operation in Balochistan will be launched in the second phase after the establishment of new legal POL outlets by the oil marketing companies in all the district of the province.

“The option of legalizing import of petroleum products from Iran through land route is also being considered by the relevant quarters to bring an end to smuggling,” the sources said.

The officials of interior ministry, while talking to this correspondent said, “if the sealed pumps do not show valid documentation within seven days of sealing, these will be confiscated by the state under the customs act along with other properties of the owners as it would be deemed that these properties were acquired with smuggling proceeds.”

The official said enforcement teams comprising officers from customs, district management, police, Rangers are jointly conducting the operation on all illegal retail outlets.

According to an official statement earlier issued stated that the drive is showing positive results. Around 1192 petrol pumps sealed and 6.8 million litres of petroleum products including diesel and petrol worth approximately Rs 760 million seized since the launch of operation.

Giving the break up, the official statement said 875 petrol pumps have been seized in Punjab, 172 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 145 in Sindh.

As per the estimates, the highest numbers of 1317 illegal petroleum retail outlets are in Punjab, followed by 343 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 336 in Sindh and 98 in Islamabad Capital Territory and Rawalpindi division.

It merits mentioning that the estimated loss due to the illegal selling of petroleum products to the national  kitty is in the range of Rs 100 billion to Rs 150 billion per annum.