Clueless ministers give contradictory statements on petrol crisis

Opposition parties, including the PPP and MQM, protest against the extension of GIDC for another four months


Azam Khan January 16, 2015
The petroleum minister stated that at least two shipments of oil carrying 35,000 tons – about one day’s supply – are expected to land at Karachi Port within the next two days. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD:


As the country faces a crippling petrol shortage, politicians on both sides of the aisle engaged in acts of political theatre on the floor of the National Assembly, with no fewer than four federal ministers giving contradictory statements on how soon the crisis is expected to be resolved and opposition members staging walkouts over energy reform policies that their own parties initiated in the previous administration.


As debate began, it became abundantly clear that the government did not have a credible plan to solve the acute petrol crisis. Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi claimed that the worst of the crisis would be over in eight to ten days. Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif appeared to think that the shortage would end in 10 to 12 days. Both ministers claimed the government was taking steps to address the crisis, but did not offer specifics, offering energy market commentary instead.

Abbasi later contradicted his own statement at a press conference by saying that the crisis will be over in five to eight days. The petroleum minister stated that at least two shipments of oil carrying 35,000 tons – about one day’s supply – are expected to land at Karachi Port within the next two days.

Meanwhile, the one measure the government did table in Parliament – extending the natural gas tax known as the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) for another four months – passed with the support of the treasury benches, but sparked furious protests and walkouts from the opposition.

Opposition parties, including the PPP and MQM, protested against the move, though they did not offer any policy alternatives for a tax that is meant to keep the country’s natural gas supply system from slipping into bankruptcy. Abbasi noted the hypocrisy of both the PPP and MQM protesting against a tax that was first levied under the Zardari Administration, when both parties were coalition partners in government.

The opposition parties’ walkout, shortly after their populist protest against the GIDC, appears to have been geared towards preventing the government from passing the bill due to a lack of quorum.

However, even though a quorum was called, the government appears to have prepared for it and had a sufficient number of members in the chamber to pass the bill.

At a press conference later in the evening, the petroleum minister said that the GIDC would affect consumers’ gas bills for the month of January.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2015.

COMMENTS (4)

Anarchist | 6 years ago | Reply

@oBSERVER: Amazingly, you have not commented on the government's handling and performance. How come? Oh because it happens to PML-N.

Siraj Ahmed | 6 years ago | Reply

Not only there is shortage of Petrol but we are still paying too much for the petrol. Price should come down by 50% at least. Where is this extra money going to ?

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