Mr. Zahid Mazhar, Chairman, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, Sindh-Baluchistan Region has demanded the government for continuous and un-interrupted supply of natural gas to the industries of Sindh and Balochistan and that they should not be deprived of their constitutional right in supply of natural gas under Article 158 of the Constitution of Pakistan as Sindh-Baluchistan is producing about 85% of the indigenous gas produced in the country.
Mr. Zahid Mazhar in a statement issued to the press said that Sindh-Baluchistan is producing 2,800 to 3,000 MMCFD out of the total 3,600 MMFCD of indigenous gas produced in the country. As against this presently it is receiving only 1050 MMCFD gas (i.e. presently getting only 33% of its production) out of the allocated quantity and previously supplied 1,200 -1300 MMCFD. Out of this quantity, the entire industry and its power plants are being supplied only around 400 MMCFD. While the gas being currently supplied is already less than the allocated quantity and the previously supplied quantity, the allocation for Sindh-Baluchistan needs to be further increased to 1450 MMCFD which is the current requirement.
Recently, there has been a severe problem of low pressure and load shedding of gas. Mr. Zahid Mazhar said that the industries specially export oriented industries like textiles have already suffered huge production losses on account of lockdowns and adverse effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on businesses. He further said that, production losses due to low gas pressure and the recent three days’ suspension of supply of gas has aggravated the problem of the textile industry and they were facing difficulties in meeting the export commitments in time. This is resulting in not only loss of foreign exchange earnings but also loss of export market and unemployment. The industrialists are worried that if the situation is so bad in summer, it will only get a lot worse in the coming winters, Zahid Mazhar added.
He also demanded that the price of natural gas for zero rated industry should be brought down to the old level of Rs. 488/MMBTU since the prices of oil and gas have fallen drastically in the international market and that the gas prices in the regionally competing countries have also been reduced to make their export oriented industries more competitive. OGRA in its decision dated 14th July 2020 in the matter of determination of estimated revenue requirement for 2020-21 for SSGC has also prescribed reduction in the gas prices. He further said that presently the provision of gas to zero rated industries comes under second priority of supply of gas after domestic consumers, he urged the government that supply of gas to zero rated industries should be treated at priority number one as it is the sector which earns about 70 to 80 percent of total exports. Mr. Zahid Mazhar said that the governments of our regional competitors provide continuous and uninterrupted supply of gas at competitive rates to their export industries, whereas domestic and commercial sectors are only provided with LPG or LNG. On the contrary in Pakistan, our precious natural gas is being supplied to the least fuel effect domestic and commercial sectors at the cost of industries.
He said that the Prime Minister and the relevant ministers have at several occasions highlighted the importance of supporting the export oriented industry to generate the much needed foreign exchange, employment and revenue however the actual situation is quite the opposite, where additional problems for the export oriented industry are being created day by day.
Mr. Zahid Mazhar said that the Governor Sindh, Mr. Imran Ismail and Mr. Asad Umar, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives in a meeting of the stakeholders held on Saturday, 11th July 2020 at Governor House, Karachi where all these issues were discussed in detail, assured that all out efforts will be made for continuous and uninterrupted gas supply to the industries. However, the problem of low pressure and disturbance in supply of gas is still continuing to this date.
Mr. Zahid Mazhar urged the Prime Minister and the Government to look into these issues on urgent basis and issue directives to the relevant ministries and SSGCL to ensure continuous and uninterrupted gas supply to the industry of Sindh and Baluchistan in general and export oriented sector in particular, otherwise the industries would be compelled to close their operations which will create not only irreparable losses to the economy of Pakistan but would also create law & order situation due to unemployment of large number of workers.