Hapless consumers the ultimate victim of gas price raise

STAFF REPORT IBD:Indecisiveness and inefficiency were the hallmarks on the part of the sitting government which it earlier last week had firstly notified CNG prices increase to Rs 77.14 in Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Potohar and to Rs 71.07 in Punjab and Sindh but a strong countrywide public reaction immediately forced it to reduce the gas cess by 60 per cent.

The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had notified a massive hike of 14 per cent in the gas tariff on all the consumer categories with the imposition of gas infrastructure development cess on all categories.

However, the All Pakistan CNG Station Owners Association and other public organizations have blamed the mismanagement gas distribution and shortsighted approach on the part of the authorities for the gas crisis in the country.

“The government could have resolved the gas distribution issue and gas shortage in the country, had it taken timely decisions in this regard,” commented Gayas Paracha, Chairman AllPakistanCNG Station Owners Association told the media.

Last week the country witnessed massive protests by the general public and the complete strike of CNG stations against the gas shortage as well as unfair gas load management. This critical gas shortage has badly affected almost all gas-run industrial units, textile mills, fertilizer plants. Majority of the textile units especially inFaisalabadhave suspended their production operations and resultantly rendering lakhs of their daily wage employees.

Gayas said that the government was conspiring to eliminate the CNG sector and paving the way for costly LPG and LNG imports.

Experts link the persistent gas crisis to the lack of long-term planning. They argue that the government during the last three years had massively issued licenses for CNG stations and currently about 3.5 million vehicles are plying with CNG kits while Punjab and Sindh governments are extensively working to introduce hundreds of CNG buses as public transport. The experts question the logic behind these transport projects at a time when the country is facing the gas crisis.

According to them, the 14 per cent gas price raise has multiplied the price spiral in almost all sectors and ultimately the consumers have to bear the brunt of this raise, while the government is least concerned about mitigating the general masses financial miseries.

It is to be mentioned here that Petroleum Minister Dr. Asim Hussain has been claiming that the increase in gas tariff will not impact the people but the increase in gas tariff of CNG, industrial, power and fertilizer sector will be indirectly impacting the people and will massively increase the inflation.

The gas regulatory authority, OGRA, has no stance over the abnormally high annual unaccounted for gas (UFG) losses of 12 per cent of the two state owned gas utility companies as compared to international bench mark of 5 percent.

They said that the government should immediately take decisions to overcome the gas crisis and give relief to the general masses as well as industry as they are not supposed to suffer.


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