Gas companies to redeem billions in dues

Around Rs5 billion recovered in four months.


August 16, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Petroleum and Natural Resources Secretary Muhammad Ejaz Chaudhry on Monday informed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) have recovered Rs8.5 billion from the industrial and domestic defaulters during last year.

He said that out of the total, Rs5 billion had been recovered during the last four months, showing the efficiency of the departments. The committee, which met under Yasmeen Rehman in the National Assembly Secretariat, discussed audit paragraphs of the ministry of petroleum for the financial years 2004-05, 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Officials of the audit department informed the committee that during financial year 2006-07, the SSGCL could not recover the amount of Rs119 million from consumers involved in gas theft. Managing Director of SSGCL, Azeem Iqbal Siddiqui told the committee that the department was making efforts for the recovery of the Rs8.5 billion stolen, but majority of the theft cases were pending in courts.

The Director General Audit took exception to the aforementioned claim and told the committee that only five cases were pending in courts, amounting to Rs 7.7 million. When Siddiqui said that around 80 per cent cases were in the courts and that PAC had known about the pending cases, the DG Audit denied that they had been informed.

Former minister for information Qamar Zaman Kaira expressed his displeasure over the different versions. He directed the petroleum secretary to initiate an inquiry into the matter and suspend the “lying” officer before the PAC within a week.

Chaudhry said that a prominent personality of Punjab and owner of a CNG station was a defaulter of Rs223 million owed to SSGCL and the department had started legal proceedings against him. He said that SNGPL and SSGCL were making efforts to recover the outstanding amounts and to overcome the gas theft complaints.

The Gas Theft Act has been tabled in parliament and if it passes, the department will be able to take serious action against the defaulters, the petroleum secretary added.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.

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