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ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Petroleum Dr Musadik Malik on Thursday while assuring no increase in gas rate said that the government had not increased the rate of gas for any sector, being provided to the consumers on networks of the SNGPL and the SSGC.

He categorically said this while turning down speculative reports circulating in a section of media about the price hike. He said the price is the same as that was two months ago.

While addressing the media, he said that the ministry had prepared a framework, comprising suggestions specially to save 50 per cent of the country’s total population, from the gas price hike when it would be revised/ determined by the OGRA under the new law.

The suggestions would be presented in the Federal Cabinet for approval; however, it would be the prerogative of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to take the final decision, he added.

He said according to the proposal if the Federal Cabinet agrees with our suggestions, the gas price for 50 per cent of the citizens would be either reduced or stay unchanged.

Lamenting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), he said the previous government made legislation under which the federal government had no authority to change the gas price determined by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA).

And according to that new law, whatsoever the price was proposed by the OGRA, it would be the prescribed rate in the country after 40 days (of submitting the proposal), he said, adding all the documentation, public hearings on petitions of the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SGPL) and the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) to determine the gas price for the fiscal year 2022-23 by the OGRA, and other related correspondence had been completed in the November last during the tenure of the PTI government.

The incumbent government had no role in this evaluation of the gas price; however, it had the only option to save the poor segments of the society, and the rich people would have to pay the commodity’s revised rate.

The minister said it was unfortunate that the poor people were using the expensive Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in the country, while those who had multiple geysers, stoves, and cooking ranges, were using the cheap natural gas. The price of LPG was four-six times higher than the natural gas, he added.

He said the incumbent coalition government had a clear policy that it would make utmost efforts and protect poor segments of the society from all kinds of additional financial burdens and negative impacts of inflation.

Replying to a question, Musadik Malik said it was unfortunate that the PTI government did not procure Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) cargoes that were available at the reduced rate of $4 per MMBTU (Metric Million British Thermal Unit) two years ago, which now cost $40. “Which means that now per LNG cargo cost is around $138 million, which was available at $12.5 million two years ago for 2-4 years, but the PTI government did not pay any attention towards buying the commodity.”

Commenting on the prevailing gas supply situation, he said on the network of the SNGPL around 670 MMCFD (Metric Million Cubic Feet per Day) was available against the average winter demand of 1,170 MMCFD of domestic consumers in Punjab and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa only.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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