The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources on Wednesday directed the Petroleum Ministry to intervene and mediate between the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and the CNG Association, and fix a “reasonable” CNG price in order to give relief to the general public.
The meeting, chaired by Tariq Khattak, was attended by senior government officials, including the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain.
In his policy statement, Dr Asim said the government had planned to phase out CNG stations because they were causing losses to the national exchequer. He said the natural gas would be used for industrialisation, investment and domestic use.
He said the government wanted an equitable market price and reasonable profit for the owners of CNG stations, adding that only public transport vehicles would be allowed to run on CNG while others would be discouraged.
While talking to reporters outside the National Assembly, Dr Asim urged the Supreme Court (SC) to hold the CNG station owners accountable for keeping their stations closed. “We have sealed multiple stations but the situation would continue to spiral out of control if the stations are not opened,” he said, adding that the government was ready to take a “drastic action” if the SC issues an order in this regard.
On the other hand, the All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) representatives accused the government of greed and mismanagement, saying the blame of the ongoing crisis fell on the government’s shoulders.
They said that OGRA’s “stubborn attitude” was also one of the main reasons why a truce could not be reached over the ongoing standoff over CNG prices. “We have been putting up with unbearable losses for the past 34 days because the government has cut gas and electricity supply to our stations,” APCNGA Central Chairman Abid Hayat said, adding that it was not possible to earn any profit if the CNG was to be sold at a price fixed by the government. He said the government, whose decisions were being influenced by the LPG traders, was not ready to compromise on its profit and was tightening the noose around the station owners’ necks.
Meanwhile, in its directive, the committee said that a solution should be reached by December 5. The committee was apprised by the managing director of the Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd (OGDCL) that the Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme (BESOS) had been launched by the government on August 14, 2009, whereby 438,815,774 shares had been transferred to the OGDCL Employees Empowerment Trust without any payment by the eligible employees subject to the transfer of these shares to the government as provided in the Trust Deed. Accordingly, the government’s shareholding in the company was reduced to 74.82 percent from 85.02 percent with effect from August 14, 2009.
When the secretary said that the Privatisation Commission (PC) was not distributing 50 percent dividend among the employees and half a million of them were not getting any profits, the committee ordered that the details of the issue should be presented in its next meeting.
LPG price up by Rs 15/kg
The distributors of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) have increased its price by Rs 15 per kilogramme.A spokesman of the All Pakistan LPG Distributors’ Association said on Wednesday that the price of domestic cylinder had been increased from Rs 110 to Rs170. He said the price of a commercial cylinder had been raised from Rs 440 to Rs 680.