ISLAMABAD, May 31: Shunning their differences for the first time, all the three main associations of compressed natural gas (CNG) dealers here on Thursday announced their decision to go on a nationwide strike on June 6, if exorbitant taxes were imposed on the sector.
Speaking at a press conference, Abdul Sami Khan, chairman CNG Dealers Association of Pakistan; Malik Khuda Buksh, chairman CNG Owners Association, and Ghiyas Paracha, chairman All Pakistan CNG Association, also announced their protest schedule starting from June 1 in Lahore.
They said the CNG rate would reach around Rs98 per kilogramme in the country after imposition of the additional cess.
They said the government was bent upon destroying the CNG industry by regularly imposing heavy taxes and resorting to prolonged gas loadshedding. The government has already imposed Rs151 per mmbtu gas development cess on CNG, they added.
“We know it from our sources in the finance ministry that another Rs159 per mmbtu cess is being imposed on CNG through the finance bill 2012-13,” Malik Khuda Buksh said. “This is unfair as Rs13 per mmbtu is being imposed on industries and for us the rate is too high.”
He said the increase in cess rate was not only unfair but also illegal.
“The law ministry has already rejected this increase on the grounds that the decision has to be taken by the Council of Common Interest (CCI),” he added. “Now the petroleum ministry is trying to get this cess approved through the finance bill.”
The CNG associations have decided that protest rallies would be organised between June 1 and June 5 in various cities and if there is no relief from the government by that time, they would launch the second phase of the protest.
Meanwhile, Sami Khan said the main reason for the extraordinary pressures on CNG was to make space for LPG in the auto sector.
“They should bring in LPG as the third fuel and not as an alternative to CNG,” Mr Khan said and added that US was still giving subsidy on CNG while Indian government was trying to encourage the use of CNG despite limited quantity of natural gas being produced there.
He said billions of rupees had been invested by all the stakeholders, including those who had established CNG stations, workshops and even installed CNG kits in their vehicles.
“Now taking a U-turn on the CNG policy is not fair and it will eventually further increase the economic burden on the masses,” he added.
Mr Paracha said CNG stations would not operate across the country from June 6 if the cess was imposed.
“Besides, we are in contact with transporters and the public to join the protest,” Mr Paracha said and highlighted that in the third phase of the protest petrol pumps would be asked to join the protest against the cess.