Gas price raise too little, Dr Asim tells Lower House
08 February, 2013
ISLAMABAD: As the lawmakers, on Thursday, lodged a strong protest in the Lower House of parliament against increase in gas tariff from January 1, Prime Minister's Adviser on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain surprised the House by declaring that the raise allowed by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) was very little and against the recommendations of the gas companies.
"The Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) would go bankrupt if OGRA continues to interfere in gas pricing formula," Dr Hussain warned. He was responding to a call-attention notice by PML-N members Malik Shakir Bashir Awan, Mrs Nisar Tanveer, Tahira Aurengzeb and Nighat Parveen Mir. As the petroleum adviser, while criticising the role of OGRA called it a redundant body, Nadeem Afzal Chan who was chairing the session advised him to initiate a move through the federal cabinet to abolish it.
"If you feel that OGRA should be abolished then you should move through cabinet," said Nadeem Afzal Chan, who is also the chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC). OGRA had allowed 14% and 11% raise in gas tariffs of SNGPL and SSGCL, whereas the two companies had recommended 30% and 14% increase, respectively. Dr Hussain said he had strong reservations over gas pricing by OGRA. "It is not a judicial body. It will have to follow government directives," he said.
The movers of the calling attention notice, while expressing concern over the increase in gas tariffs, said the fuel was neither available to domestic consumers nor to industry, but its prices were being raised. He said that natural gas is still the cheapest fuel in the country, which also has the highest number of gas consumers and CNG stations in part of the world. "If cost price of gas is Rs 400, we are charging Rs 100 to consumers," he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Water and Power Tasneem Ahmad Qureshi admitted that seven to eight hours electricity load shedding was being carried out in urban areas and 12 hours in rural areas. He said an inquiry is being conducted into complaints regarding more load shedding in some parts of the country. The minister said the government has provided Rs 1.4 trillion to power sector, including in the form of subsidies, during the last four years.
He informed the House that three power generation projects are being launched in Sindh, which would help overcome electricity shortage in the country. He said the thermal power stations in Jamshoro, Star Thermal Power Project in Dharki and Kandra Power Project in Sukkur would have a total power generation capacity of 854MW.
Meanwhile, all women members present in the House went up in protest against MNA Kashmala Tariq's non-inclusion in the sub-committee of National Assembly's Standing Committee on Human Rights over the issue of anchorperson Ayesha Sana and Pakistan Television (PTV) Managing Director Yousuf Baig Mirza.
Sana has claimed that Mirza had married her and they had a son, which the latter has denied. The moment Riaz Fatiana, who is also the chairperson of the human rights committee of the assembly, took the chair of the house, MNA Anusha Rehman stood up on a point of order and directly addressing Fatiana asked him to include Kahsmala Tariq in the sub-committee, as she was the mover of the resolution.
Earlier during a meeting of the committee, Kashmala alleged that Fatiana was making efforts to convince Sana on an out-of-the-committee deal with the PTV MD.