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Ministry decides to go to federal cabinet after Ogra 'no'

28 December, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Finding stiff opposition from Ogra to shift whopping burden of Rs 11 billion, non-recovered amount from KP and Balochistan under gas theft head, to common consumers already paying bills, Petroleum Ministry has once again decided to put the matter before the federal cabinet.

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ISLAMABAD: Finding stiff opposition from Ogra to shift whopping burden of Rs 11 billion, non-recovered amount from KP and Balochistan under gas theft head, to common consumers already paying bills, Petroleum Ministry has once again decided to put the matter before the federal cabinet.

Interestingly, the federal cabinet during its meeting held on October 11 had secretly accorded approval to the petroleum ministry's summary seeking shifting of enormous Rs11 billion burden on gas consumers. However, Ogra rejected the summary on the plea that it was the sever violation of consumer rights and thus could not be passed on to the consumers paying bills regularly. Since the ministry and Ogra are at loggers head on the issue and Petroleum Ministry has once again decided to bring the matter to the Cabinet for further review and necessary action.

“If the federal cabinet once again decided in favour of the petroleum ministry then consumers of Punjab province would share major burden as the province consumes 65 percent of total gas production while gas consumers of Sindh province would stand at the second number in this regard,” a source in petroleum ministry aware of the development informed. He added that the ministry of petroleum & natural resources (MP&NR) has written a letter to Ogra reminding the independent regulatory authority about the violation of section 21 of Ogra ordinance as the federal cabinet had already approved the policy guidelines in this very regard.

The MP&NR has also told the regulator that a decision to resubmit the matter in the cabinet meeting has been taken in principle.   Energy experts when contacted were of the view that Ogra entrusted with a mandate to protect the rights of consumers should once again oppose this conspiracy of slapping gas consumers on account of bad law and order like situation.

They said the Supreme Court of Pakistan had already declared that Ogra must not accept any policy guideline, which is against the provision of its ordinance as well as the rights of consumers. Chairman Ogra should keep in mind the consequences of former Chairman Ogra (Tauqeer Saddiq) who fulfilled what the government had required from him, one of the expert opined.

According to a well-placed top official at the Ministry, Ogra had earlier rejected the petition of both gas utilities seeking payment. Owing to the blatant refusal by the regulator, the Ministry of Petroleum adopted another way to once again get the approval of the summary seeking more fleecing of legitimate consumers, who regularly pay their gas bills on time.

He also told that both gas companies (SNGPL & SSGCL) had raised it to the ministry that due to bad law and order situation in crisis-ridden Balochistan and KP, meter reading team remained fail to note the readings because of haunted death threats.

The gas utilities had further demanded of the ministry that they would file an FIR against the gas theft. However, Ogra should compensate the companies by shifting the burden of stolen gas to the consumers paying bill regularly. And, if the oil ministry gets federal cabinet's nod then tariff of SNGPL would go up by Rs9.60/mmbtu and of SSGCL by Rs5.15/mmbtu, the official added.

Earlier, Ogra Chairman Saeed Ahmed Khan had bitterly opposed the moving of summary in cabinet arguing that gas consumers should not be punished for gas theft and the inefficiency of recovery of bills at any cost but powerful cabinet members paid no heed and principally approved the summary. Chairman Ogra had opposed the summary in the meeting arguing that the authorities concerned should check gas theft after determining the quantum of stolen gas. He said gas companies are already fleecing Rs 15b under the 4.5pc UFG to the gas consumers due to their unawareness.

End.


 
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