Friday April 12, 2024

Minister highlights in Senate how gas firm earns less, spends more

By Mumtaz Alvi
March 02, 2024
Minister for Energy Muhammad Ali speaks at a press conference. — PID/file
Minister for Energy Muhammad Ali speaks at a press conference. — PID/file

ISLAMABAD: To the surprise of many, the Senate was informed on Friday that the SNGPL’s profit after tax deduction was in a few million and expenditure, including salaries, wages and other benefits, accounted for billions.

During the Question-Hour, Minister for Energy Muhammad Ali said during the last five financial years, the company’s expenditures in 2017-18 stood at Rs13,654 million and profit Rs1.121 million, Rs15,139 million in 2018-19 and Rs7.076 million profit, Rs16,413 million in 2019-20 and Rs5.998 million profit, Rs18,101 million in 2020-21 and Rs10.986 million profit and Rs20,069 million in 2021-22 and Rs10.366 million profit, respectively.

Senator Behramand Tangi, who had asked the question, wondered what the fate of the country would be if institutions like this one continued incurring expenditure in billions and profit in a few million. He said the company was overstaffed and questioned the salaries and allowances of employees.

The House was also told that Pakistan’s water resources are under severe stress due to climate change and the country is presently water stressed, with per capita water availability below 1,000 cubic metres as compared to 5,650 cubic metres in 1947.

Interim Minister for Water Resources Ahmad Irfan Aslam shared this information with the House during the Question-Hour in reply to a question by Senator Shahadat Awan. He noted the country had one of the largest groundwater aquifers in the world (4th after China, India and the USA).

At the same time, the minister said in a written reply that the Indus Basin is one of the 13 overstressed aquifers where the groundwater withdrawal is estimated about 30-65mm per year. Presently, there are 1.4 million tube-wells in the country through which about 92 million acre feet (MAF) of groundwater is pumped out annually to meet irrigation, domestic and industrial demands.

“It provides more than 60pc agricultural needs, over 90pc drinking and almost 100pc of industrial requirements. Further the situation is aggravating as pressure on groundwater resources is increasing due to climate change and rising water demand associated with population growth,” he explained. He also referred to various steps, including the construction of dams, which include Diamer Basha Dam and Mohmand Dam.

Ahmad Irfan Aslam, who also holds the portfolio of Ministry of Law and Justice, told the Senate that the amount recovered by the National Accountability Bureau from those involved in corruption during the last three years show direct recoveries stand at Rs21.237 billion and indirect recoveries are Rs1,648.441 billion and total amount Rs1,669.678 billion.

He pointed out that Rs15.439 billion had been transferred to their beneficiaries including the federal government, provincial governments, departments, banks, financial institutions and public at large.

The interim minister for energy informed the House that around 714,000 barrels (98,000 tons) of Russian Urals crude oil was imported by the Pakistan Refinery Limited (PRL) as the designated entity by the government, as a test transaction to assess logistics, payment and potential impact. However, he noted it was agreed between both the parties (buyer and the seller) that terms of the commercial agreement would remain confidential, including price of the crude oil. It was agreed between the two parties that terms of the commercial agreement would remain confidential, including the price of crude oil. Therefore, a comparison of price of the imported Russian crude oil with international market could not be made.