–Imran chairs meeting in Lahore, directs petroleum minister to launch probe into inflated gas bills
–Directs CM Buzdar look into the formation of a judicial commission on Sahiwal encounter
–Approves Punjab Spatial Plan, tells media wing to defend party, highlight govt’s achievements
LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday directed Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan to conduct an inquiry into the matter of inflated gas bills to consumers by the Southern Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL).
People had resorted to protests in various parts of the country for receiving overcharged bills in spite of frequent gas load shedding and low pressure during the winter season as per a report in Pakistan Today on Saturday.
“Putting an additional burden on consumers in the form of increased gas bills is unacceptable as it is directly affecting the consumers,” the premier said while passing the order during his day-long visit to Lahore.
The prime minister’s decision to launch an inquiry into the incident may come as a relief for the consumers, who were left bereft after the press conference of the petroleum minister who had told people to pay up their dues as the government could not afford to sell expensive gas on cheap rates.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed the PM’s decision, saying the premier had directed Sarwar to conduct an immediate inquiry into the matter.
“A 10 per cent increase in gas bills was for the consumers using less than 300 mmcfd (million cubic feet per day), which constitute 70 per cent of the gas consumers and more increase was for the rich people, consuming high volume of gas,” Fawad claimed.
PM CHAIRS MEETING ON PUNJAB’S FINANCIAL CAPACITY, ADMINISTRATIVE CAPABILITY:
PM also chaired a meeting focused on devising strategies to increase the Punjab government’s financial capacity and administrative capability.
The meeting was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari alias Zulfi Bukhari, Minister Designate for National Health Services Amir Mehmood Kayani, and Special Assistant on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque.
Other government officials present were Punjab Senior Minister Aleem Khan, Punjab Agriculture Minister Malik Nauman Ahmed Langrial, Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, Punjab Minister for Housing Mehmoodur Rasheed, Minister for Irrigation Mohammad Mohsin Langrial, and Minister for Industries Mian Mohammad Aslam Iqbal.
During the meeting, the PM was briefed on effective use of technology, investment, and human resource for economic development by economist Salman Shah.
It discussed how to promote agriculture, industry, power, infrastructure, and skilled human resource besides putting emphasis on an increase in agricultural and industrial output. The huddle also mulls on identifying ways to diversify the range of products being manufactured.
‘PUNJAB SPATIAL PLAN’:
The development plan for 50 cities and 36 major districts of Punjab also came under discussion and it was decided that at least 15 cities of the province be declared “economic hubs”.
The prime minister said that there was a dire need to reorganise the administrative blueprints for the welfare of the people and gave the go-ahead for the implementation of a ‘Punjab Spatial Strategy’.
PTI SEEKS BETTER RELATIONS WITH MEDIA:
Imran also chaired a meeting of PTI Punjab media strategy committee, which was attended by Usman Buzdar, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, Aleem Khan, and others.
During the meeting, he instructed the media strategy committee to highlight development projects initiated by the Punjab government and to defend the party and the government in a more effective manner in the media.
The task force on housing in Punjab also informed the premier on the progress in the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme. Punjab Minister for Housing Mehmoodur Rasheed was present during the briefing.
Meanwhile, in a meeting with Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, he issued directives to ensure the availability of clean drinking water to the people of the province. “Legislation will soon be expedited to form the water authority,” he assured.
‘PM SAYS PROVIDE JUSTICE TO SAHIWAL VICTIMS’:
Prime Minister Imran Khan in a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar at CM Secretariat. Upon his arrival in the city, the PM was received by CM Buzdar at the Secretariat. The premier asked the chief minister to look into the formation of a judicial commission on Sahiwal encounter, which had claimed the lives of four people.
The premier was briefed on police reforms in the province, as well as developments in the investigation into the Sahiwal encounter.
The PM said that the appeal of the Khalil family should be heeded and action should be taken accordingly. The premier expressed solidarity with the victim family and voiced the resolve to ensure dispensation of justice into the incident at all cost.
On the direction of the premier, the chief minister will meet the affected families of the Sahiwal tragedy.
Imran had vowed reforms in Punjab police after the Sahiwal incident in a tweet, saying that he would not only ensure the guilty are given exemplary punishment but also “review the entire structure of Punjab police and start the process of reforming it”.
Four people, including three members of a family, were killed in an alleged encounter in Sahiwal on January 19. Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel said that they had killed a local commander of Islamic State or Daesh and three others in the operation.
However, eyewitnesses and three children, whose parents were killed, disputed the claim. The incident sparked a national outcry and prompted the premier to order an investigation into the killings.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Punjab government had ruled out the possibility of formation of a judicial commission, with CM Buzdar saying that the government was satisfied with the “transparent” proceedings of the joint investigation team (JIT). However, the families of the victims had been continuously demanding the formation of a judicial commission, maintaining that the findings of the JIT were “not satisfactory”.