‘Unfavourable’ political situation: Govt defers 40% rise in gas prices

* Petition filed by PTI in Supreme Court against gas theft and line losses another major factor behind government’s decision

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) has deferred the decision to increase gas tariff by up to 40 percent owing to unfavourable political situation, coupled with a petition filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) against gas theft and losses in the Supreme Court, sources told Daily Times on Saturday.
Earlier, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had recommended to the government to increase gas tariff of state-owned gas companies – the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) – for the current fiscal year. 
Under the decision, the gas price stood at Rs 58.29 per mmbtu for consumers of the SNGPL and Rs 22.90 per mmbtu for consumers of the SSGCL.
The sources said that the government had also considered increasing the price of compressed natural gas (CNG) by Rs 10 to Rs 25 per kilogramme, while consumers were to bear additional Rs 45 billion following OGRA’s decision to hike the tariff for the ongoing financial year. 
The federal cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has not issued policy guidelines regarding increasing gas tariff for the running financial year, sources said.
A senior official at the Ministry of Petroleum on the condition of anonymity said that a final decision on either to pass tariff hike or not would be made after the decision of the apex court. He added that the government was likely to review the decision of a gigantic hike in gas tariff for all categories of gas consumers, including the domestic ones. It is worth mentioning here that PTI MNA Asad Umar, on Thursday, filed a petition before the apex court, requesting a restraint for the Ministry of Petroleum and OGRA from increasing the Unaccounted for Gas (UfG) benchmark from 4.5 percent to nine percent, pleading that if it was done, the helpless gas consumers would have to bear the brunt.

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