Petroleum minister seeks help of provinces in curbing gas losses

Published March 16, 2019
Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan admits inflated gas bills were mistakenly sent to consumers. — DawnNewsTV/File
Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan admits inflated gas bills were mistakenly sent to consumers. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Friday sought the support of provinces in containing gas losses being faced by gas companies.

Briefing the Senate Standing Com­mittee on Petroleum here, the minister said that steps had been taken by the government to improve gas billing recoveries and modernise the sector.

The meeting discussed various issues being faced by the country’s energy sector with a special focus on natural gas.

Chairman of the committee Senator Mohsin Aziz inquired about the steps taken by the government to reform the gas sector as members of the committee expressed serious concern over inflated gas bills received by consumers.

Ghulam Sarwar Khan admits inflated gas bills were mistakenly sent to consumers

The minister admitted that inflated bills had been mistakenly sent to consumers.

“I am not hesitant in admitting that consumers were indeed sent inflated gas bills, but this act was not intentional or deliberate,” Mr Khan said, adding: “I accept the mistake, but will add that it was just a mistake and not a deliberate move.”

He further said: “I also assure you that necessary rectification measures have already been taken and separate committees have been formed which are examining the issue of gas price hike and inflated bills.”

The minister informed the committee that the steps taken by his ministry included formation of an inter-departmental inquiry, an inquiry by AF Ferguson & Co Chartered Accountants and an inquiry committee formed under the aegis of the Prime Minister’s Inspection Team.

The minister said that gas prices had been increased due to mounting losses being faced by the two gas utilities and these losses now stood at Rs154 billion.

“The previous PML-N government capped the gas prices and did not allow new gas connections for four years, and they lifted the ban on new connections only in the last year of their tenure, which led to heavy financial load on gas companies.

“Gasification schemes of Rs55 billion were introduced to win seats in the general election which technically amounts to pre-poll rigging,” the minister said.

He also highlighted some of the challenges being faced by gas utilities in curbing UFG losses, including theft. “There is need to work harder for elimination of UFG losses which are as high as 72 per cent in Balochistan alone,” he added.

The minister shared with the committee the outcome of the meetings he held in Quetta with the chief minister and members of the provincial assembly and other relevant stakeholders.

The minister also shared with the committee the recent adoption of a resolution by the Balochistan Assembly for introducing a flat rate for natural gas in the province.

He said that the ministry was in constant contact with the Balochistan government in extending genuine relief, cooperation and addressing genuine concerns of the province.

Mr Khan informed the committee that the process of reimbursing inflated bills money to affected consumers had begun.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2019

Opinion

Editorial

The whole truth
28 Sep, 2022

The whole truth

THE war on truth has never been more relentless than it is today. Authoritarianism is on the rise and purveyors of...
Real-world trolls
Updated 28 Sep, 2022

Real-world trolls

It's reprehensible how PTI supporters now seem convinced that politicians from opposing camps aren't entitled to basic dignity.
Islamabad wildlife
28 Sep, 2022

Islamabad wildlife

PRESERVING biodiversity is low on the list of priorities of both state and society. However, successful attempts at...
Noon leaks
Updated 27 Sep, 2022

Noon leaks

PMO audio leaks are a national security emergency that ought to be investigated at the highest level.
Cipher probe offer
27 Sep, 2022

Cipher probe offer

CONSIDERING the toxic political polarisation in the country, former prime minister Imran Khan’s suggestion that ...
Delaying Doha plans
27 Sep, 2022

Delaying Doha plans

WHEN Doha announced its intention to spend $3bn in different commercial and investment sectors of Pakistan around a...