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February 9, 2019

Govt to convene CCI meeting to discuss gas issue

Business

February 9, 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government on Friday agreed to convene the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting to resolve gas shortage issue among the provinces, apparently giving in to the demand of Sindh that complains of stumpy gas supply in the province.

Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said Prime Minister Imran Khan had advised him to meet governors of all the provinces to deliberate on gas shortage issue. “The gas supply issues would be solved in the CCI, and no province would be deprived of its rights,” petroleum minister Khan said, talking to media at the airport on his way to Khairpur.

Sindh has long been demanding a meeting of CCI to address its reservation over low supply of gas to the province that is causing adverse shortage of the prime energy source. In March last year, the CCI meeting was convened to deliberate on the gas shortage issue. The meeting appointed attorney general to propose a comprehensive policy to resolve gas supply dispute once and for all.

The minister didn’t schedule for the CCI meeting. But, he emphasised that provinces would get due share under the National Finance Commission Award. Khan said supply shortage is not the problem of Karachi alone, but several cities including Islamabad are having gas crisis as the country’s demand has outpaced the supply.

“Sindh along with Karachi is our government priority,” he added. “Karachi has given good response to our party. We will make our party strong in Sindh.” The petroleum minister said the country has been facing gas crisis. Rise in winter leads to increase in demand of gas.

“This has been first winter of this government,” he added. “In the next winters, situation would be different.” The minister said losses of gas companies amounted to Rs157 billion, which has adversely affected supply management capacity of Sui Southern Gas Company.

Khan further said government inherited circular debt of Rs1.2 trillion. The minister said the government granted licences for 10 exploration blocks to expedite exploration activities. “We have identified several blocks in Balochistan and government is working on a plan to start supply from these blocks into the system,” he said.

The minister said Balchoistan has enough potential for gas reservoirs. In March, drilling on some of the blocks in Balochistan will be started. “We are hopeful that we will find gas reserves offshore.”

The petroleum minister further said the flawed policies in the past incentivised imports, while exports kept declining. He said the government has given subsidy of Rs25 billion to Punjab industry. It is giving subsidies to export-oriented sector.

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