• Caretaker cabinet approves up to 3,900pc increase in fixed monthly charges, 194pc in consumer rates
• New Haj policy approved; privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills halted

 Rehan Ahmed
Rehan Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: The caretaker cabinet on Monday approved a whopping increase of up to 3,900 per cent in the fixed monthly charges, and 194 per cent in the consumer rates for natural gas, which will open floodgates to a fresh bout of inflation.

In effect, the average gas cost for protected consumer slabs (0.25hm3 to 0.9hm3) would jump by up to 300pc, in view of the cumulative impact of higher fixed charges, while their annual bill is estimated to rise by up to 150 per cent.

“The federal government… approved increase in the price of natural gas for different categories of the consumers as advised by the Ogra with effect from November 1, 2023,” said a summary issued by the petroleum division after the cabinet meeting.

According to the statement, the cabinet referred the summary back to the ECC for reconsideration on Monday, which was approved the same day.

After the ratification of new prices, there is up to 3,900pc increase in fixed monthly charges for the “protected category” in the domestic sector from Rs10 at present to Rs400 per month.

Each domestic consum­ption slab and the changes to their fixed charges as well as consumer rates are detailed in the table below.

Bulk consumption

The tariff for bulk consumption has increased from Rs1,600 per mmBtu to Rs2,000 per mmBtu, whereas there is no change in tariff for special commercial (roti tandoors) category that currently stands at Rs697 per mmBtu.

The tariff increase for commercial consumers has been jacked up to Rs3,900 per mmBtu, Rs4,400 per unit for cement factories and Rs3,600 per unit for CNG stations, while for export industries it is Rs2,100 per mmBtu for process and Rs2,400 for captive plants.

On the other hand, gas rates for non-export industries have been increased to Rs2,200 per mmBtu for process and Rs2,500 per unit for captive plants.

No increase is made for gas supply to the power sector.

PSM privatisation halted

Sharing major decisions taken by the cabinet, caretaker Informa­tion Minis­ter Murtaza Solangi told a post-meeting presser the forum had approved a rep­a­­­triation order, which dea­l­­t with the expulsion of il­­legal aliens from the country.

The cabinet also appro­ved the Haj Policy 2024, under which 179,210 pilgrims will perform Haj.

It also halted the privatisation of the Pakistan Steel Mills.

The cabinet also appro­ved international operat­i­ons for Fly Jinnah. Now, the airline will be able to fly to Afghanistan, Bangla­desh, Iraq, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thai­land, Turkiye, and the UAE.

Meanwhile, Caretaker Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem backed the decision to appoint military officials as the heads of two hospitals in the federal capital. “We made these appointments purely on merit,” he said in response to a question.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2023

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