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The government has decided to receive exorbitant gas bill payments in four to six instalments in a bid to provide some relief to consumers. Both gas utilities - Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) - have been directed that monthly gas bills payment of over Rs 20,000 can be deposited through easy instalments.
Briefing mediapersons Saturday, Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that the government has decided to get the gas bills in four to six instalments for the facilitation of gas consumers. The gas facilitation centres were also asked to extend services to the consumers on weekend too, the minister added.
The minister said around 9,300,000 consumers are utilising the gas service network of SNGPL and SSGCL and he had directed managing directors of both Sui companies to receive monthly bill payments in instalments. "We directed the Sui companies not to disconnect gas connections of defaulters," he added.
Khan says the government is taking adequate steps to improve gas supply in the country. During the tenure of the previous government, he said, gas was bought at expensive rates and sold at cheaper rates, causing financial losses of Rs 142 billion to the national exchequer each year.
If the government of PTI had not increased the gas tariff, the financial losses of both the companies would reach Rs 154 billion. He said Rs 50 billion worth of gas is annually stolen.
He further said that the government of PML-N approved gas projects worth Rs 55 billion during their last year in order to get voters' favour. Khan said the previous government also did not raise the price of gas to get a positive image before the people.
He maintained that the present government took difficult decision of rationalising the gas rates in order to take the gas companies out of loss. He further said that as the consumption of gas increases during winter, the consumers using more quantity of gas receive higher bills.
The minister said the import bill of oil and gas related expenses are over $16 billion. He said offshore drilling has been started from the thirteenth of last month and good news is expected by end of next month. So far, 3,500 meters deep drilling has been done out of 5,500 meters.
He said the Saudi Arabia has expressed interest to invest more than $10 billion in the country, adding the Saudi Arabia is not only setting up a refinery in Gwadar but will also make investments in agriculture, fertilizer and construction of LNG storage sites.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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