TAXILA: Admitting a “technical error” in gas billing during the last few months, Federal Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Monday said the overbilled consumers would be compensated accordingly.
The minister was taking to media persons after launching a Clean and Green Pakistan Drive by planting saplings at the TMA complex here. Member Punjab Assembly Ammar Sadeeq Khan was also present.
Mr Sarwar said around Rs2.5 billion would be reimbursed to 3.3 million consumers who had been charged higher rates due to two major reasons: faulty gas tariff and undue “pressure factor.”
He said gas companies had introduced seven new slabs which had resulted in the issuance of inflated bills, which were also due to the pressure factor.
“We accept responsibility that a technical mistake was done in the [slabs] and we would revisit it to bring new slabs. I admit that excessive bills were issued to consumers,” he said.
The minister added that three committees, including that of his ministry, the prime minister’s inspection team and that of an international auditing firm, were formed to probe the inflated bills and identify the elements involved in putting an extra burden on the citizens.
He said an inquiry report would be submitted by March 22 and pledged to take strict action against those found responsible for the inflated bills.
On the directives of the prime minister, the extra amount charged will be adjusted in the following month’s bills, he said.
The minister alleged that the previous PML-N government had banned new gas supply projects and approved gas schemes worth Rs55 billion in 2018 which had affected the financial health of gas companies.
He said the gas deficit had reached Rs154 billion, the deficit of Pakistan Steel Mills reached Rs470 billion and that of the national airline was Rs250 million. He blamed the poor policies and poor governance of successive governments for this.
He said the government was establishing the Potohar University in Gujar Khan and a Gandhara University in Taxila and was making efforts to impart vocational training and education across the Rawalpindi division.
Launching the clean and green drive, he said Rs1.28 billion had been allocated to the Punjab Forest Department under the premier’s Green Pakistan programme, and that the funds would be used for afforestation by planting 5.5 million trees in five years.
He said 100,000 saplings will be planted over 138 acres in 19 districts of the province under the programme.
Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2019