PM orders refund of extra money charged from gas consumers

Published February 27, 2019
Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered strict action against the officials involved in sending inflated bills to consumers. — PM Khan's Instagram
Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered strict action against the officials involved in sending inflated bills to consumers. — PM Khan's Instagram

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered the authorities concerned to refund the amount charged from natural gas consumers through inflated bills.

Presiding over a meeting on the issue of inflated gas bills on Tuesday, the prime minister also ordered strict action against the officials involved in sending the bills to the consumers.

Finance Minister Asad Umar, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan and senior officials of the ministries and departments concerned attended the meeting.

The prime minister was presented with a preliminary inquiry report. He was told that as per the inquiry, 30 per cent of the gas consumers were sent inflated gas bills.

Mr Khan directed the authorities concerned to continue the investigation to dig out all the facts.

The public would be updated with future developments in this regard, said a statement issued by the PM Office.

It has been reported that inflated gas bills were issued due to an increase in slabs of consumption set by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority and the federal cabinet approved the hike.

Under the new slabs, consumption of over 500mmf is charged at a rate of Rs1,470 per unit and the entire monthly consumption will be charged at that rate.

The government had formed a four-member committee headed by Additional Secretary (Policy) of the Petroleum Division Sher Afgan Khan to investigate complaints against the inflated gas bills on Feb 4.

The ministry of energy notified the committee a day after the prime minister ordered an investigation into the complaints received by him at the citizens’ portal.

According to the notification, the committee has been formed to hold an “inquiry about faults in the Sui Natural Gas Pipelines Limited monthly gas bills”, implying that the consumers have received inflated bills due to some technical error or a mistake by someone.

However, the terms of reference of the committee said that its main task would be to “look into the excessive billing in view of increased price slab, recently introduced by the government and must seek its findings about the reason and justification of the excessive domestic gas bills”.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had claimed that 70pc of domestic consumers across the country used up to 300mmf gas and the government had hiked the tariff for such consumers by 10pc only.

However, a number of consumers complained that they live in one- or two-room houses, but their monthly bill has jumped from Rs1,000-Rs1,500 to over Rs30,000.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2019

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