ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan, while addressing the Senate ‘Standing Committee on Petroleum’ has said that overbilled gas consumers would be reimbursed.
Sarwar said that three committees had been formed to probe the inflated gas bills after the government found some technical faults in the slabs under which the commodity price was determined.
“We admit that there were some technical faults in finalizing the gas slabs due to pressure factor that caused inflated bills. Technical teams carried out random surveys in different regions and examined the gas bills of 10,000 consumers, out of which 3,300 bills were found wrong or excessively charged. The overcharged amount will be refunded to consumers,” said Committee Chairman Senator Mohsin Aziz, “an inquiry report would be submitted by March 22 and we will make sure to take strict action against the people who are found responsible for the inflated gas bills.”
Sarwar said that the gas companies had refunded around Rs50 million to consumers on account of excessive billing, while approximately Rs2.5 billion had yet to be paid.
Commenting on huge line losses in Balochistan, the minister said a proposal of ‘flat tariff’ was being considered, keeping in view all aspects to bring down the ratio of Unaccounted for Gas (UFG) there.”We promise to resolve all issues of the gas sector soon and the common man would be given relief. For this, we have devised a strategy to tackle the gas theft issue in Balochistan for which, we are in contact with the provincial government.” The minister has held meetings in Quetta with the Chief Minister, members of the Provincial Assembly across party spectrum and other relevant stakeholders to discuss the issues related to the gas sector.
Currently, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC)’s UFG stands at 11 per cent across its transmission areas, out of which 72 per cent line losses were reported in Balochistan alone.
Sarwar further said that gas prices were increased due to mounting losses being faced by gas utilities which stood at Rs 154 billion. He blamed the previous PML-N government who had frozen gas prices and new connections for four years and lifted this ban during the last year of their government. “Gasification schemes worth Rs 55 billion were introduced to win seats, which technically amounts to pre-poll rigging,” he said.
On March 11, in compliance with the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s direction, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited announced to compensate overbilled gas consumers. The direction came after ‘Public gas utilities’ charged inflated bills to 3.2 million consumers because of a change in consumer slabs introduced by the government. The extra amount charged from the gas consumers would be adjusted in the next month’s bills.