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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet approved two amendments in “The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2022”, allowing the authority to notify gas prices within 40 days without waiting the decision of the federal government, one of the conditions of the IMF.

Both bills were already approved by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee.

The mover of the bills was Ali Muhammad Khan, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, which were referred to the committee during the senate session in January 2022.

Rana Maqbool Ahmad chaired the meeting of the committee.

OGRA Chairman Masroor Khan explained that in case the government did not take any decision on the recommendations of the OGRA on Estimated Revenue Requirements of gas companies, the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Ltd (SNGPL) and the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), within 40 days than the OGRA would notify the gas prices without waiting of the federal government’s decision. He further said the condition of 40 days was not in the law.

An official of legal department of the OGRA explained that individuals and companies took the delay in notifying the gas prices to the courts, and 40 days period would discourage this practice.

In the second amendment, OGRA chairman said that Petroleum Levy (PL) Ordinance, 1961 did not have word “RLNG” as non-available at that time. The amendment was an administrative measure to mix both natural and imported gas.

The committee also constituted a sub-committee to probe the hike in the prices of petroleum products up to Rs12 per litre despite enough oil was in stock and deferred oil payment facility from Saudi Arabia. The Chairman Committee, Rana Maqbool Ahmad, lamented the OGRA and the NEPRA authorities, saying that this increase in prices is unjustifiable.

The Chairman Committee inquired the OGRA authorities that “why the government is charging 12 rupees on petroleum products, when that amount will not be paid to the seller”. However, the authorities were unable to satisfy the chairman committee on the question inquired.

Senator Kamil Ali Agha was of opinion that 15 days back, Prime Minister Imran Khan gave relief to the people on petroleum products and now the OGRA has raised the price of oil by 12 rupees. He stressed that once the relief has given to the people then it cannot be taken back.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs informed the Committee that increases in petroleum products is due to international hike in prices and assured the committee that the government will make sure that the subsidy given by PM Imran Khan remains intact. On the face of the issue, the chairman committee constituted the sub-committee, which will discuss the reasons behind the increase of oil and electricity prices and submit its report to the committee.

Meanwhile, during discussion on the recent decisions of the Central Selection Board, Senator Dilawar Khan and Senator Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur asked the Establishment Division to provide reasons for the supersession of officers.

Establishment Secretary Afzal Latif informed the committee that PM Imran Khan refused to share the information with the committee owing to its sensitivity and sub-judicial status.

The Chairman Committee stressed that it is Parliament’s privilege to review the report and ensured the Establishment Division that the Committee will hold its in-camera session in view of the classified nature of the information at hand.

The Chairman Committee was of view that there is a need to make amendments in Retirement Rules and directed that the Establishment Division should cooperate with the Committee in making rules rationale.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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