Export industries get inflated gas bills again

Published: December 8, 2018
FCCI says subsidy has not been adjusted by the public utility.


FCCI says subsidy has not been adjusted by the public utility. PHOTO: REUTERS

FAISALABAD: The Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) has expressed deep concern over receiving gas bills for the second time with enhanced commercial tariff of Rs1,787 per unit instead of revision in the previous inflated bills in line with the government’s policy for five zero-rated export industries including textile.

In a statement, FCCI President Syed Zia Alumdar Hussain demanded that the current gas bills should be withdrawn and fresh adjusted bills be issued to save exporters from severe liquidity crunch.

He pointed out that Finance Minister Asad Umar had categorically announced that the five export-oriented sectors would receive gas at $6.5 per million British thermal units (mmbtu) in a bid to cut the cost of production and make Pakistan’s exports competitive in international markets.

The decision was taken to enhance exports, which were facing a steep decline due to the high cost of production for the past many years.

He was of the view that the new government had realised the gravity of the situation and decided to make exports competitive by providing gas and electricity at regionally competitive tariffs.

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Hussain said the process to implement the decision moved at a very slow pace but a notification was issued for the provision of Rs44 billion in subsidy. The exporters were given assurances that the subsidy would be adjusted by Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) in gas bills, but it did not happen and inflated bills were issued to the exporters.

In response to the concern voiced by the exporters, government officials had pointed out bottlenecks in the way of issuing subsidised bills, but assured industrialists that the additional amount paid in the first bill would be adjusted in the next bill.

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He lamented that government institutions had failed to complete procedural formalities and inflated bills were issued for the second time.

He said the exporters were now not in a position to bear the additional burden as Rs350 billion worth of tax refund claims had already been pending for the past many years and they could not afford investment in unproductive areas anymore.

He demanded that the Petroleum Division direct SNGPL to withdraw the fresh gas bills and issue new bills after adjusting the approved subsidy.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2018.

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