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CNG crisis and its beneficiary

December 25, 2012

THIS is apropos of Qazi Shafqat Hussain’s letter on the worsening natural gas crisis (Dec 19). I agree with most of the views expressed by the writer pertaining to the CNG crisis and I have a few comments to add.

We all know that in the eyes of the ministry of petroleum an appropriate solution to the crisis is a phase-out of the CNG from the transport sector through direct or indirect methods and its diversion towards industry.

The burning of the gas in vehicles is seen as a sheer waste of a valuable natural resource and its non-availability to the industry is causing heavy losses to the economy.

For long, the adviser to the ministry has been advocating this remedy, but this solution is not without its damaging effects on the economy and the common man. There will be a fresh wave of hike in prices of all kinds of commodities and services when CNG becomes as dearer as petrol and diesel.

Therefore, consumers have to stand in long queues, which become longer with the passage of time, before the CNG filling stations for several hours, and tolerating at least three days in a week without gas.

But the situation created by protests leading to the closure of filling stations because of new prices suit the government.

Now it has become more difficult for the government to take a decision in resolving this problem. If CNG stations become fully operational, millions of domestic consumers won’t be able to prepare breakfast. The choice is either to use gas to cook food or run luxury cars on cheaper fuel.

While it is good that the court has exposed CNG station owners by revealing hefty profits they were making in the name of operating costs, the overall reduction in the fuel’s price from 60 per cent to 35 per cent of petrol is bound to encourage its rapid use, even by those who can comfortably afford consumption of petrol.

Hence, it is not the poor but the rich who happen to be the beneficiary of the court’s order.