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KARACHI: President of Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum Mian Zahid Hussain has said the country will witness a serious gas crisis soon.

Successive governments had not done enough to balance supply and demand for gas over the last decade which made the crisis a part of the winter in the country, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that Prime Minister Imran Khan should take steps to avert the brewing crisis, or it would drag the economy down.

He said that the coronavirus, the sugar and flour crises, rains and political struggle over Karachi had added to the problems of the people as well as that of the investors while a gas crisis was also brewing.

He said that the demand for gas had been outpacing its supply for the last one decade, and no major discovery could be ensured, but the gas companies were adding 500,000 to 700,000 consumers annually, pushing up the shortfall to almost 3.7 billion cubic feet.

A decision was taken to bridge the shortfall through LNG imports and billions of dollars were spent for the purpose but it failed to stem the crisis. The gas shortage will hit the industrial sector while masses will have the option to use LPG.

He said that "the LPG mafia" would increase prices after almost 300 percent increase in the demand, and there would be no one to stop them from profiteering.

He lamented the fact that the LNG storage capacity was not built to benefit from the record fall in the spot rates while the private sector was not allowed to import the LNG despite their having been granted licences, a situation that had disappointed many people.

"The influential gas bureaucracy is discouraging the private sector, and it is also the biggest hurdle in providing affordable gas to masses and to the business community," he said.

If the private sector was allowed to import gas, it would reduce the price of the commodity, benefitting the masses and substantially reducing the import bill which was "unacceptable to the gas mafia".

He said that some elements had been dragging the prime minister into some artificial crises so he could not focus on the welfare of the masses.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020