(May 20, 2019)
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said proposed gas price hike will damage masses and economic activities. Prime Minister Imran Khan should reject OGRA’s proposal to hike the gas price by 47 percent for SNGPL and 28 percent for SSGC, he said.
Talking to the business community, Mian Zahid Hussain said that the government has already increased gas tariff by 133 percent therefore another hike cannot be justified.
The veteran business leader said that an upward revision in gas tariff will also increase the tariff of electricity and erode the buying power of the masses which are already reeling under runaway inflation. Gas is almost half of the country’s energy mix which should not be subjected to frequent fluctuations lest it compromises production and exports, he warned.
The former minister noted that the government has increased prices of petroleum products, medicine, edibles while the currency has been devalued therefore masses should not be burdened through another hike in gas prices. He noted that losses of gas companies and thefts have reached billions of rupees while inefficiency and mismanagement have plagued these utilities. These companies should introduce reforms to reduce losses and stop punishing honest customers for their own shortcomings.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that frequent price increase is not a sustainable solution for the problems confronting SSGS and SNGPL, therefore, the distribution companies should try to put their own house in order. He said that the government should give target to reduce theft, line losses and operational costs to the management of gas companies and their success should be determined in light of the results. The latest proposal, if accepted will jack up the monthly bill of people using 50 cubic meters of gas by Rs 515 while those using 100 cubic meter of gas monthly will have to pay an additional amount of Rs 1500.