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Wolesi Jirga summons officials over hike of fuel, gas prices

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Officials termed smuggling of fuel and fixing of prices by private sector as the main factor behind high prices and low quality of fuel and gas in the market

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: The Wolesi Jirga (Lower House) of Parliament on Saturday summoned commerce minister, National Standard Authority and Fuel and Gas Department officials to brief regarding the low quality and hike of fuel and gas price in the market.

Lawmakers came hard on government over low quality and increasing of fuel and gas prices ahead of winter, asking the government to seek a platform to reduce prices as well as control quality of fuel and gas across the country.

Criticizing government’s failure in controlling fuel and gas prices, Ghulam Hussain Naseri warned that “if the ministry of commerce does not reduce price of fuel and gas in a week, I will lobby to collect legislators’ signatures and summon minister for interpellation.”

Member of the Wolesi Jirga Ramazan Bashardost said that mafia fixes prices in the market, thus parliament should summon them to brief the issue.

He said that mafia gives money to shut the mouths of minister, some attorneys and number of lawmakers.

Simin Barakzai, another lawmaker, said increasing fuel and gas price was a common issue in Afghanistan in the past one decade.

“Unfortunately, fuel price in the world market decreases, but in Afghanistan, it increases this year,” Barakzai said.

A number of the lawmakers said that the hike of price and importing low quality fuel and gas not only causes economic challenges, but negatively impact over population health throughout the country.

Meanwhile, deputy commerce and industries minister Abdul Bari Rahman, called free market system the main factor limiting government interference in the market.

He said that privatization of fuel and gas department is only the way to pave the ground to the government to interfere in the market and control prices.

Head of Fuel and Gas Department Abdul Wali Tamim, said that private sector fixes the prices, which can be the main reason behind hike of prices.

He stated that most of fuel sellers do not provide bill to the department.

“Lack of specific law for fuel and gas is another challenge in the country,” he added.

He highlighted that Afghanistan needs 1,400 to 1,500 tons of fuel per day, but currently we have over 2,000 tons in the market, which is enough, but still prices are high.

Gas and Fuel Department must change as a national company to purchase fuel and gas and through control the market.

Head of Afghanistan National Standards Authority said that this department intensified its operation and control in different port and has strictly prevented import of low quality fuel.

He said that 30,000 tons of low quality fuel and gas has been prevented from import of low quality fuel and gas to Afghanistan.

He said that also we have banned selling of petrol 80 in the country.

“We have control on ports, but the low quality fuel is smuggled to the country, which ANSA is not able to control it,” he underlined.