ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday ordered a countrywide crackdown against gas theft, saying that the fuel worth Rs50 billion was being stolen annually, while the government was giving Rs100 billion subsidy to 91 per cent consumers.
Chairing a high-level meeting on the gas sector, the prime minister received a briefing on the issues concerning it. He was informed that Rs50 billion stolen gas was being put in the category of unaccounted-for gas (UFG) and the burden was passed on to the consumers.
The premier, while ordering the crackdown against gas theft, said no leniency should be shown in the case of UFG. He added that the performance of the heads of the gas companies would be evaluated on the basis of stopping the UFG.
The prime minister was briefed about the demand and supply of gas in summer and winter seasons, arrangements to fulfil the current demand of domestic, industrial and other sectors as well as the future requirements.
The meeting was also informed about the policy to fulfil requirements of gas for 2019 and 2020. It was decided that 200 million cubic feet daily of gas would be added to the system, keeping in view the requirements for electricity and other sectors during the coming months.
The prime minister was briefed about the complaints of inflated gas bills. He was told that despite the costly contracts for buying imported gas and other expenditures, merely 12 to 35% increase had been made in the bills of 91% consumers.
The meeting was informed that less than 10% consumers who used 500 to 1,000 units of gas per month had been issued inflated bills. The meeting was also briefed about the steps taken for discovery of gas reserves and the facilities given to such companies.
The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Adviser to Prime Minister on Trade Abdur Razak Dawood, Task Force on Energy Chairman Nadeem Babar, federal secretaries, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) chairman and the managing directors of the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC).
Meanwhile, addressing the inauguration ceremony of Pakistan Railways’ live tracking system and the Thal Express train service at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad, the premier said that the government was compelled to increase gas prices as the industry suffered immense losses because of gas theft.
He accused the previous governments of burying Pakistan in debt. “The country would send pilgrims for Hajj for free if we did not have these shortcomings,” said the prime minister. However, he added that foreign investment was coming to Pakistan and “the future is bright” for the country.
The prime minister said the ongoing accountability drive will rid the nation of corruption. He said he had directed all the ministries to cut costs, while the expenditures of the Prime Minister House had been slashed by 30%. “If I can cut costs by 30%, other ministries can slash their expenditures by at least 10%.”
With additional inputs from APP
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