Senate body enquires reasons for exorbitant billing, increasing slabs

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ISLAMABAD, Mar 15(APP): The Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum Friday enquired the reasons for exorbitant billing and the reasons for increasing slabs.

The Committee was informed that increased gas consumption during winter months attract application of high slab rates.

The Federal Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan confessed that there were certain difficulties while making slabs. He said that the Prime Minister has taken notice of this and has directed to reimburse consumers that have been overcharged.

The Committee was informed that a report in this regard is being submitted internally as well as by AF Ferguson & Co. on 22 March, 2019.

The committee was presided over by Senator Mohsin Aziz and attended by Senator Mir Kabir Ahmed Muhammad Shahi,  Shamim Afridi,  Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini,  Bahramand Khan Tangi, Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen, Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Minister for Petroleum and senior officers from the Petroleum Division along with all concerned.

The issues that came under consideration were implementation status of the recommendations made by the Committee regarding gas pressure in Kallat, Mastung and Ziarat, non-installation of air-mix plants in Balochistan, inflated billing, increase in gas slabs, status of gas infrastructure development, complaint against highhandedness of GM SSGC Korangi, Karachi and lifting of moratorium of new Industrial gas connections.

The meeting commenced with discussion on low gas pressure in Kallat, Mastung and Ziarat. The Committee was informed that measures are being taken to improve the system and that in January 5 CCF gas was distributed and this month 7 CCF gas was supplied which is 1.7 CCF more than last year. Pipeline modification has also been conducted.

Senator Mir Kabir Ahmed Muhammad Shahi was of the view that even though there has been improvement, yet the gas supplied to Balochistan was less than required. He said that these areas experience minus temperatures during winters due to which more gas is vital for sustainability. He also raised the issue of exorbitant billing in the area.

Senator Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini agreeing with the issue said that it is costing the environment dearly and during winters numerous Sanober and Juniper trees are being cut.  He said that it was imperative that stringent measures are adopted to deal with this in a timely manner.  He urged the Committee to take a strong stand so that this issue is dealt effectively for once.

While discussing the present status of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC), the Committee was informed that the Federal Cabinet has directed that Reduction in cess rate prospectively will be allowed to those consumers/sectors who will undertake to pay the balance 50 percent arrears, option of non-cash settlement for GST, subsidy or DLT claims will be given as well.  Also directives were given that Ministry of Industry and Production will ensure that reduction in fertilizer prices due to levy of reduced cess rate prospectively must pass on to the end consumer and that GIDC shall be used for the infrastructure development of gas projects.   The issue will be taken to Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) and then will be ratified by the Cabinet.

Regarding the installation of Air Max plants in Balochistan the Committee was informed that land has been acquired for installation of 10 plants and construction work on the same will be started within one month.

The Committee unanimously recommended that moratorium be removed for Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as passed in a resolution by the Senate of Pakistan.

Source: VNS Islamabad