per cent due to the global rise in oil. — Photo by PPI
ISLAMABAD: Severely criticising the increase in prices of petroleum products, the standing committee of the National Assembly on petroleum and natural resources, supported by Prime Minister’s Adviser on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain and PPP parliamentarians, unanimously demanded that the government should immediately revert the prices to the July 31 level.
The debate over the increase in oil prices by up to 9 per cent, misuse of natural gas by a textile mill belonging to the spouse of Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and gas shortfalls led to an exchange of hot words among members of the committee, particularly between PPP legislator from Muzaffargarh Jamshed Dasti and Dr Asim Hussain.
Eventually, the adviser agreed to endorse a unanimous recommendation to the prime minister for withdrawal of the latest oil price increase. Mr Dasti blamed the ministry of petroleum and its attached companies for the energy crisis and described them as a ‘mafia’ which did not care for the sufferings of the masses.
Birjees Tahir of the PML-N expressed similar views and said that key advisers and ministers were senators who did not understand people’s problems as did members of the National Assembly who had a direct linkage with the electorate.cngsdfsdfssdfs
Veteran PPP parliamentarian Yousuf Talpur said he wondered what kind of people’s government it was which did not bother about providing relief to people and instead callously increased petroleum prices. He said the price increase should be immediately withdrawn.
Led by Engineer Tariq Khattak, the committee unanimously demanded immediate withdrawal of the oil price increase.
Dr Asim Hussain said he endorsed the recommendation and would send it to the prime minister and the president for a political decision.
Mr Dasti said inefficiency, mismanagement and corruption in companies and departments associated with the petroleum ministry had destroyed the entire system and forced people to protest against electricity and gas shortages.
The petroleum minister informed the committee that he had decided not to allow renewal of CNG marketing licences to those who had completed 15 years of operations and submitted a summary to the prime minister for approval.
Managing Director of the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd Arif Hameed told the committee that his company had received 35-40 schemes of Rs46 billion on recommendations of MNAs and had completed 28,000km of lines while work was in progress on another 18,000km of lines.
He said about Rs30 billion had already been spent on the expansion schemes and the government released another Rs7 billion recently and the company itself would spend Rs3 billion.
Mr Hameed said the SNGPL was being criticised by MNAs for non-completion of their schemes without appreciating the fact that the company wanted to complete schemes on which 60-70 per cent work had been completed. The company had to give them up on the directives of the prime minister’s secretariat, he added.
Dr Asim said it was a serious injustice with consumers and the country that parliamentarians did not understand that the expansion schemes were resulting in increased tariff at a time when there was serious gas shortage.
He said the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority did not allow investments beyond a certain limit on such schemes and the result was that more than Rs22 billion worth of schemes were pending because if these were completed the government would have to increase the tariff for all consumers.
Talking about illegal commercial connections or non-energisation of connections where consumers had paid their full cost, the SNGPL managing director confirmed that 39 such cases were reported in Faisalabad. He said the matter was being investigated and only genuine cases would be entertained.
When Birjees Tahir asked why Galaxy Textiles of Hina Rabbani Khar’s spouse continued to use gas despite loadshedding, he said people in some areas were powerful and influential and made the lives of the company’s staff miserable when they tried to disconnect such supplies.