‘No word’ from IMF on plan to reduce gas circular debt

SNGPL takes action against gas theft; registers FIRs

Irshad Ansari September 12, 2023


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is yet to weigh in on Pakistan's plan to reduce its gas circular debt, leaving the finance ministry in a state of uncertainty as it awaits word from the global lender.

Sources within the finance ministry have revealed that the IMF has not responded to a draft of the proposed scheme, which aims to tackle a staggering circular debt estimated at Rs1.6 trillion.

The Pakistani authorities now plan to reintroduce the dividend plug-in back scheme during the economic review with the IMF, they added.

The finance and energy ministries were hopeful that a response from the IMF would be received by Monday regarding the issue of electricity bills and the dividend plug-in scheme.

However, it seems that no progress has been made on this front amid silence from the global money lender.
In an effort to address the mounting debt crisis faced by the gas sector, the Pakistani authorities had prepared a plan to reduce the revolving debt with the consent of the IMF.

The proposed plug-in back scheme is projected to reduce the gas sector's revolving debt by Rs400 billion.
The scheme, once implemented under the supervision of the incoming caretaker finance minister, is expected to have a significant impact on the sector's financial health.

This scheme will distribute dividends to major players in the industry, including the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDC), Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL), and Government Holding Private Limited (GHPL).

Not only is the adjustment expected to rejuvenate the financial health of the gas sector, but it is also billed as a booster of investor confidence in the industry. However, as the government awaits the IMF’s response, the fate of this scheme remains uncertain.

Crackdown on gas theft

The gas distributor has also filed FIRs against 45 consumers involved in gas theft and taken action against 21 consumers who installed fake meters to steal gas.

Around 45 teams have been deployed to combat gas theft, resulting in the arrest of 10 individuals who installed direct bypasses to steal gas.

Moreover, 180 tampered meters have been replaced, and those of three commercial customers have been disconnected.

According to the spokesperson, the crackdown has resulted in savings of Rs1.45 billion worth of gas and reduced gas losses by two per cent to less than 10 per cent.

Additionally, 72 connections of individuals illegally supplying gas to other households have been disconnected, as 66 million cubic feet of gas was being stolen.

The gas company has formed teams to prevent water from entering the gas pipelines and replace the lines to ensure an uninterrupted gas supply.

Meanwhile, action has been taken against 240 consumers using compressors and 305 users who violated their agreements.

Gas is now being provided to domestic consumers three times a day and to all others, 24 hours a day, the spokesperson said.