SC stays CNG price until Thursday

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The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered authorities to maintain the current price of compressed natural gas (CNG) until December 20.

While hearing the CNG price case, the apex court ordered the government to issue pricing policy guidelines and directed OGRA to resolve the CNG issue at the earliest.

The CNG station owners were again directed to submit their audited accounts to OGRA.

The two-judge bench of Justice Jawwad S Khwaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain also sought the ten-year record consisting of CNG’s average price, post-subsidy prices and the difference in prices between domestic and industrial consumers.

The counsel for OGRA, Salman Akram Raja, informed the court that the price determined in meetings between the CNG association and station owners would be presented in the federal cabinet on Tuesday. However, Petroleum Secretary Waqar Masood said he had no information whether it was on Cabinet’s agenda.

Akram added that Rs 73.96 per kilogramme had been recommended for Region 1, while Rs 65.50 per kilogramme had been recommended for Region 2.

Justice Khwaja asked if the prices of Rs 74 and Rs 65 were proposals or a final decision, adding that whatever happened in the past was OGRA’s mistake and masses were bearing the brunt of it.

“How can the court find out if the regulator’s prices are up to the mark? A commission could be set up to determine the prices,” he remarked.

OGRA requested the apex court to set an interim price of CNG, however, the court turned down the plea and directed the regulating authority to maintain the present prices as it were.

The counsel for OGRA apprised the bench that to date, only 400 CNG stations had provided their audit record, but representatives of CNG station owners disputed the claim, saying a majority had submitted the requisite record.

They emphasized that the issues highlighted in a report compiled by Justice (r) Rana Bhagwandas regarding fixation of petroleum prices needed to be implemented.

Abid Manto, counsel for Sui Southern Gas Company Limited and Sui Northern Gas Company Limited, also submitted a report regarding other aspects of gas, like unaccounted gas loss of two companies.

Justice Khwaja said the court would definitely interfere wherever there was violation of human rights, adding that the entire cabinet was sitting in comfort.

He directed the Petroleum Ministry and OGRA to take immediate steps to steer the people out of the current crisis.

The bench said the government and OGRA must take prompt action on the issue of prices of CNG, as it was affecting a large number of CNG consumers and CNG station owners.

The court also summoned the record of sectors receiving gas subsidy from the Petroleum Ministry.

The hearing of the case was adjourned until December 20.