Thursday April 18, 2024

Musadik promises lower gas, power tariffs for the poor

“The country has been ruined by subsidies,” says the PML-N leader

By Ali Raza
February 20, 2023
State Minister Musadik Malik addressing press conference in Islamabad after Russia visit on December 5, 2022. — PID
State Minister Musadik Malik addressing press conference in Islamabad after Russia visit on December 5, 2022. — PID

LAHORE: Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik said on Sunday that the tariffs of gas and electricity would be lower for the poor and higher for the rich, in future.

Addressing a press conference at the Lahore Press Club here, he said: “The country has been ruined by subsidies”, adding that those who wanted to take back their money from the gas companies could do so. He said the overall gas tariff of 59pc of the country's users had been reduced. “We have reduced the gas rate for tea stall owners and they will pay a gas bill of Rs800, while the hotel with ovens and big stoves will have to pay a separate price for gas consumption.”

The state minister said: “Only a thousand people are occupying Pakistan as if the country is made for them only. It seems the country is established for four or six capitalists only.”

He said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had ordered for giving of as much new gas as possible to the power sector. He said a unit of liquefied natural gas (LNG) would cost Rs26 per unit. “The federal government had decided to give that gas to factories at Rs7 per unit,” he announced and said the government was standing with the poor and with the old Pakistan, where everyone was equal.

Responding to a question about Federal Minister Khwaja Asif’s statement that Pakistan had already defaulted, Musadik said Pakistan had not defaulted because default occurs when a country fails to pay its debts.

About the recent countrywide power breakdown, he said an inquiry report of the incident had been finalised by him, but he could not reveal it was presented and approved in the cabinet.

“The future of the country lies in industrial growth and the present government is focusing on establishment of small and medium type industries, especially by the young people coming out of colleges,” he said while responding to a question related to economic revival of the country.

Admitting the fact that people were facing difficulties due to an increase in petroleum product prices, the minister of state said the prices of petroleum products were linked to the international market as well as with the dollar. “We have to pay the price of petroleum products by buying dollars. The weakening of the rupee increases the price of oil,” he added.

To a question, he said Russian oil would start coming by the end of March 2023 and the beginning of April after which people would get some relief. He said one third of the total oil requirements of the country would be met with the Russian oil, he added.

He said if anyone sells oil at a price lower than the international market, then the country would default and become Sri Lanka. “The reason why Pakistan has reached a state of ruin is that Imran Khan gave away expensive oil at a cheaper price due to which the country faced a burden of Rs200 billion every month, and the banks went bankrupt,” Musadik claimed.

The federal government was working to add around 10,000 megawatts of solar power to the national grid, he said adding that wherever 600-MW solar systems were being installed, the government was providing them land on lease.

He claimed that under the new gas tariff, no subsidy was being given to anyone because the poor had the same rights as the rich. Musadik said that the government was also giving importance to developing Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.

To a question, he said the Russian ambassador did not talk about gas, only the pipeline was discussed.

To another question, he said not a single gas meter had been installed since he assumed the charge. He said the meters were not installed because there was no gas and the government could not afford the price at which gas was available.

Replying to a question about the next general elections, he said elections should be held on time and it would be the job of the Election Commission to announce dates for the next elections.

Earlier, he said the aim of the government was to solve problems of the poor and the government was trying hard to remove the burden placed on the poor in the country.

“Nawaz Sharif was disqualified for not taking salary from his son and the one who took the palace of 450-kanal in Pakistan and got benefit of Rs250 million was living comfortably,” he said adding Maryam Nawaz was sentenced to eight years for downloading a font, while Arif Naqvi installed a plant worth Rs360 million and no action was taken against him.

He said in one Pakistan, there were big branded cars and on the other hand, the poor children were dying of hunger. Imported stoves and dog food would be taxed, he said adding that Pakistan of the rich and Pakistan of the poor would now be separated and the powerful would be taxed, not the poor.