Winter is long gone, further evidenced by the heat wave that has gripped Lahore, but the gas shortage remains, which has triggered an exponential increase in prices of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders - despite the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) price cap.
In its notification of prices for May, OGRA fixed the LPG price at Rs 229 per kilogram (kg) but that has had no impact on dealers in Punjab’s capital, who are selling LPG between Rs 290 and Rs 300. This profiteering at the part of dealers has left the populace of Lahore infuriated. “The no gas nightmare has continued into the summer and it is burning a hole through my pocket,” complained Muhammad Ejaz, a resident of the city, who further informed that he was currently buying LPG at Rs 300 per kg. Kamran Sajjad, who resides in the Gulshan-e-Ravi area of Lahore, can relate to Ejaz’s plight.
“The government tells us that prices for LPG have decreased but when we go to the market, the rates are much higher,” said an irate Sajjad. Similarly, another local, Bilal, criticised the government for not being able to deter the “LPG mafia.”
He was of the view that being made to pay an additional Rs 60 to 70 per kg for LPG, when prices were fixed as Rs 229 per kg, was highway robbery, especially given the back breaking inflation. When questioned about the exploitative practices of LPG dealers, in light of Lahore’s populace’s revelations, a local dealer Nadeem Khan, defensively told The Express Tribune that the high rates had nothing to do with dealers.
“This is a business; we are sold expensive LPG and we transfer the burden onto the customer,” remarked Khan. “The government should take action against the companies which are selling us expensive LPG, but who goes after the big fish in this country?” he added. However, Chairman of the LPG Distributors Association, Irfan Khokhar, does not agree with Khan. “There is definitely an LPG mafia, which is fleecing customers and the government needs to go after them,” said Khokhar, adding that there was no need to charge Rs 60 or Rs 70 more than the maximum price set by OGRA. “We have even written to OGRA and the district administration multiple times to take action against those involved in profiteering but they have not taken any action,” the Chairman informed. In light of Khokhar’s information, The Express Tribune asked the Commissioner Lahore, Muhammad Ali Randhawa, regarding the inaction against LPG dealers. “Our office has received several complaints in this regard, thus we have directed the Deputy Commissioner to devise a strategy for bringing down the LPG price,” replied Randhawa.
“If LPG is not provided to consumers according to the prices issued by OGRA then we will take legal action against the violators,” the Commissioner added while talking to The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2023.
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