PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly was informed on Monday that the federal government had released Rs20 billion out of the outstanding Rs65 billion dues on account of net hydel profit to the provincial government.
Winding up a discussion on the frequent gas and electricity outages and overbilling, adviser to the chief minister on elementary and secondary education Ziaullah Bangash informed the lawmakers that dialogue was under way with the centre for the release of the remaining net hydel profit dues and that the province would definitely get its all payments.
As Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, finance minister Taimur Saleem Khan and other ministers, who hold important portfolios, remained absent from the house as usual, adviser Bangash was tasked with winding up the debate.
Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani presided over the sitting.
CM adviser tells PA dialogue underway for release of remaining Rs45 billion
Mr Bangash held the last PML-N-led federal government responsible for power crisis and said increase in electricity and gas prices had overburdened consumers.
He suggested that federal water and power minister Umar Ayub and petroleum and natural resources minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan brief the house about issues related to Wapda and natural gas.
The adviser said the federal government was working on a plan to address the loadshedding issue once and for all.
He said several hydropower projects had been completed adding a total of 99MW electricity to the national grid.
Mr Bangash said three power projects would be completed by the end of Dec generating 49MW, while two more projects would begin producing 154MW electricity by the end of 2022.
He said NoC for the exploration of oil and gas had been issued for Lakki Marwat Block, where the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Oil and Gas Development Company would begin drilling after the survey’s completion.
The adviser said the Frontier Works Organisation would install oil refinery in Karak, while another refinery had been proposed in Kohat.
He said the establishment of an institute of petroleum exploration in southern districts was under consideration.
Mr Bangash said foreign investment was expected in oil and gas sectors in KP due to improvement in law and order situation.
Earlier, the opposition benches criticised the federal government over increase in gas and electricity prices, and issuance of inflated bills.
Resuming debate, member of the opposition Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal Inayatullah Khan termed the excessive gas billing a burning issue.
He said the prime minister had formed a committee to look into the matter but it had yet to release its report.
Mr Inayatullah suggested that the federal government revisit the newly introduced slabs for gas consumers as it had badly affected everyone.
He feared that people would stop using gas due to high prices.
The lawmaker said it was unfortunate that prices of the liquefied petroleum gas had been sharply increased during the last few months.
He said KP received 300MMCF gas against its total production of 450MMCF that resulted in gas shortage for domestic and commercial consumers.
Mr Inayatullah demanded of the federal government to give the due share to the province.
He said KP was not getting its due share from the national grid and therefore, residents of some areas witnessed suspension of electric supply for 20-22 hours daily.
Awami National Party MPA Khushdil Khan said KP should have its own power distribution company as it was self sufficient in power generation.
He said after the enactment of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the province could establish its own power distribution company.
Faisal Zaib of the ANP proposed that federal government supply natural gas to Malakand and Hazara divisions to ensure protection of natural forests.
Sahibzada Sanaullah of the Pakistan Peoples Party asked the government to replace old power transmission lines to reduce line losses.
Later, the house unanimously passed a resolution flaying the US, Israel and India for calling the New Zealand mosque attacker a mentally unstable person.
The resolution asked the federal government to take up the matter with the three countries and declare the attacker a terrorist.
It lauded New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for showing solidarity with the families of mosque attacks and calling the shooter a terrorist.
The government introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Urban Mass Transit (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The chair later adjourned the sitting until 1:30pm today (Tuesday).
Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2019