The federal cabinet approved on Wednesday a legislation recommending up to 14 years imprisonment and Rs10 million fine on causing any damage to a main gas supply line to deal with increasing incidents of oil and gas theft and sabotage activities.
The cabinet also approved last week’s decision by the ECC to provide a Rs2 billion Ramazan subsidy package through a Utility Stores network.
The new piece of legislation proposes punishments of 14-year prison term and Rs10 million in fines for tampering with the main pipeline while tampering with the distribution network would accrue imprisonment of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of Rs3 million.
Domestic consumers found tampering with gas meters would be liable to get an imprisonment term of six months and a fine up to Rs10,000, while tampering of industrial or commercial meters would lead to an imprisonment of three years and a fine of up to Rs1 million.
The government moved to add ghee, chickpeas (daal chana), split green gram (moong), split white gram (mash), gram flour (baisan), rice (sela, basmati and broken), cold drinks, squashes, tea, spices and tetra milk packs in the list of essential items in the Ramazan package.
There will be a difference of Rs17 per kilogramme in the rate of sugar in the open market and the price at the Utility Stores outlets.
Moreover, there is a difference of Rs125-185 in a 20-kilogramme bag of wheat flour between the open market and the USC while USC will reduce the prices of more than 800 items by five to 10 per cent.
The cabinet granted ex-post facto approval to the release of financial support of Rs65 billion to Pepco to improve the supply of electricity to the people.
The cabinet also agreed to a draft bill allowing the interior ministry to notify the required amendments in the 12th Schedule of the Motor Vehicles Ordinance of 1965.
It agreed to start negotiations for the modernisation and expansion of Pakistan Steel Mills, besides allowing the ministry of production to engage in negotiations with their counterpart ministry in the Russian Federation in this regard.
It also discussed the proposed amendments in the National Tariff Commission (NTC) Act of 1990 for implementing a Supreme Court judgment.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2011.
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