Shehbaz seeks probe into ‘expensive’ LNG purchase

Published August 1, 2021
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said the Trafigura Company had offered the cheaper LNG to Pakistan which the PTI government declined. — AFP/File
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said the Trafigura Company had offered the cheaper LNG to Pakistan which the PTI government declined. — AFP/File

LAHORE: PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif has demanded a thorough investigation into buying of the ‘most expensive’ LNG by the Imran Khan government in the country’s history.

“This procurement has cost the country $422.4 million extra. The PTI government repeatedly lied to the nation on the matter as it has bought LNG for $15 per mmbtu which the PML-N bought for $8 per mmbtu,” the National Assembly opposition leader said in a statement here on Saturday.

He said on every shipment of LNG the PTI government was wasting an additional $22.5m.

“On four of such shipments a whopping $95m of nation’s money will be wasted. The people will be paying $15 per unit in the current month which was unbearable,” he said and added that during the global peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, LNG was available at much cheaper rates but the government intentionally delayed the procurement. He reminded that the PML-N had demanded that this cheap LNG should be bought. “In September 2021 Pakistan will pay $387m for LNG.”

Mr Shehbaz said the Trafigura Company had offered the cheaper LNG to Pakistan which the PTI government declined. He said had the PTI government agreed to a three-year contract at that time, Pakistan would have gotten LNG at $4 mmbtu instead of $15 mmbtu. “This would have saved Pakistan $35.2m per shipment and the country would have received 12 cargoes by now. The country could have saved $422.4m,” he said.

The opposition leader said the government could import 14 cargoes but was intentionally importing less which had created a shortage for the CNG sector and industry. He said had the government paid head to PML-N’s advice the country could have avoided the energy crisis and the people would have gotten cheaper gas.

“It is a global practice that long-term agreements are signed for LNG procurement but the government went for spot-buying which was an outrageous step,” he lamented.

Shehbaz Sharif said all this did not happen because of ‘incompetence or mismanagement’ but because of a well thought-out plan by government functionaries to make money. He stressed that this must be investigated.

“Those who benefited the country by buying cheap LNG are facing imprisonment while those who are looting the nation are ruling. Responsibility for this ‘dacoity’ on the people of Pakistan must be fixed and the perpetrators punished.

PPP: Pakistan People’s Party central Punjab chief organiser Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has constituted a 15-member committee to finalise the candidates for the cantonment boards elections.

Prominent among the committee members are Azizur Rehman Chan, Qasim Zia, Aslam Gill and Samina Ghurki.

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2021

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