Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The state-owned multinational petroleum corporation PSO has been slapped with a fine of PKR 150 million by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP).

The hefty fine was imposed owing to the fact that the company advertised misleading and deceptive campaigns for its products “Premier XL” petrol and “Green Plus” diesel as they violated Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010.

A high-level bench of CCP comprising of  Chairperson Vadiyya Khalil, Members Dr. Shahzad Ansar and Ikram Ul Haque Qureshi passed the order.

It all began with a complaint alleging that PSO was misleading consumers into believing that the use of its products ‘Premier XL’ and ‘Green Plus’ led to improved mileage and performance of vehicle’s engine due to special additives.

However, after a thorough inquiry by the officials of CCP it was revealed that there was no truth in PSO’s claims.

Investigations into the scam unearthed that although PSO discontinued the use of such performance booster additives in 2012/13 still it was marketing the said products with the same slogans and taglines.

CCP orders disclosed that the tall claims of PSO fell on a stony ground as the firm was unable to bolster its original claim about improved mileage with any scientific proof. Moreover, the oil giant did not stop marketing campaigns with same insignias after 2012-13 although it discontinued the use of those additives.

The false claims by PSO regarding improved mileage led consumers to believe that they were purchasing a fuel superior in quality to others and so it dented the spirit of competition between PSO and its competitors.

Apart from the hefty fine, PSO was ordered to stop the use of ‘Green’ and ‘Premium’ branding in its marketing campaigns. CCP also set a dead line of 30 days for PSO to remove the impression that its fuel products were premium and environmentally friendly.

Moreover, PSO has been instructed by CCP to announce publicly, the discontinuation of additives in its products through substantial clarifications in leading English and Urdu newspapers for at least a period of seven days, a report of which should also be submitted back to the authority within a period of 45 days from the date of issuance of this order.