Minister for Petroleum Division Ghulam Sarwar Khan Saturday said the sui gas consumers had been allowed to pay their inflated bills in equal installments. Talking to media persons, the minister flanked by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Media Iftikhar Durrani, said the step was taken to facilitate the consumers who could not afford to pay the total bill. The consumers, who received Rs 20,000 gas bill or above are being provided facility to pay their bill in four installments.
He said Sui Southern Gas Pipelines Limited (SSGPL) and Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) had been directed to avoid disconnecting gas connections of consumers.
Admitting that the inflated bills were burden on the consumers, he said the government was not in a position to pay subsidy owing to poor financial health of gas companies. The system of purchasing costly gas and selling it on cheaper prices was not long lasting, he observed. The Customer Care Services would remain open on Saturdays and Sundays to facilitate the consumers, he added.
The Minister said due to increased consumption of gas in severe cold the low slab consumers hadfallen into higher slabs, which was the main reason behind inflated bills.
Government is well versed of the problems of people and hoped that the situation would start improving from next season. “In 2018, the government of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) had approved gas providing schemes of Rs 55 billion just to please the people and get votes, which was tantamount to pre poll rigging,” Ghulam Sarwar said.
He said that some PML-N people had admitted before him that their party had won 20 to 30 seats in Punjab in last general elections due to promises of providing sui gas connections. He said PMN-N did not increase the prices in their tenure for gaining cheap political gains. PTI government was duty bound to tell the people real picture as gas companies could be closed if their losses continued, he added
Ghulam Sarwar Khan said offshore drilling had started from the last month and good news was expected by end of next month. “So far, 3500 meter deep drilling has been done out of 5500 meters. Government is trying utmost to expedite gas exploration as the current gas reserves are racing towards fast depletion.” the Minister said. By 2027, the current reserves could be depleted, he said, adding the government had abolished duties on offshore drilling to attract maximum investment in this sector.
The Minister said cumulative losses of gas companies including Sui Southern Gas Pipelines and and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines were Rs 154 billion each year, adding total gas of Rs 50 billion was being stolen with immunity.
He said it was wrongly being said in the past that the country imports 75 percent gas and produced 25 percent of total available gas, adding infact, the country produced only 15 percent of total gas while imported 85 percent gas. The Minister said according to analytical reports, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project was the cheapest as comparing to other projects adding the working on the project was continued. The Prime Minister would be briefed on TAPI next week, he added.
Responding to a question, the Minister said Saudi Arabia and UAE and other countries were willing to invest in Pakistan as their confidence had already been restored. The Minister said the present government took difficult decision of rationalizing the gas rates in order to take the gas companies out of loss.
He said around 930,0000 consumers were utilizing the gas service network of Sui Northern and Sui Southern Gas companies.