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March 14, 2019

Inflated gas bills: Process of passing refund to gas consumers begins

Top Story

March 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD: In line with directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Sui Northern has started the process of passing refund to the gas consumers who got inflated gas bills and in the first phase the gas company has refunded Rs50 million in gas billing to 11250 consumers, this was told by the authorities concerned to participants of the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCOE) that was held here on Wednesday.

On average the affected consumer got excessive billing of Rs4500 who are compensated in the first phase. The Sui Northern carried out the sampling in 16 regions in two weeks’ time under which the 10,000 consumers gas meters were examined if they got inflated bills in the wake of pressure factor, the 3000 (30%) consumers out of 10,000 have been identified that they fell victim to excessive billing just on account of pressure factor.

This process would continue till the affected end consumers are compensated. The survey of every 10000 consumers would continue and out of which the consumers who are affected with excessive billing because of pressure factor would continue to be compensated.

And more importantly CCOE has been told that if the 7 slabs pricing formula continues and the slab benefits are ensured to the consumers even then it would be a win-win formula.

According to well-placed official who attended the meeting also told that other option was presented about the abolishing the last two slabs of Rs1460 per MMBTU and increasing the gas price of three to four slabs consumers. However, there is no decision taken in the meeting to limit the 7 slabs pricing formula to 5 slabs.

The official said that the 7 slabs pricing formula with 10-143 percent will continue to take place with no slab benefit till June 30, 2019.

The government will decide to review the gas prices keeping in view the revenue requirement of the gas companies and demand of IMF. The official said next budget will be prepared with the consent of IMF. IMF is currently exerting the pressure to erase the subsidy to the domestic sector. To a question the official said that third party audit report about the inflated gas bills will be presented in next ECC meeting.

So far 48,683 gas consumers falling in slab category 4 and 5, while just touching the next slab in the wake of pressure factor and 7-slab formula with 10-143 percent increase in gas price with no slab benefit, have been subjected to the excessive billing by 100-200 percent and they would also be compensated.

Secretary Power Division told the News that about Rs40 billion recovery has increased in November and December 2018 and January 2019 and one percent loss in the system has reduced. Now the government has decided to hit the defaulted premises of the electricity supply is disconnected but later on it is restored.

Earlier a press release of CCoE meeting issue which says that the committee considered various proposals to make recovery on fast track basis from defaulters of the power sectors. It stressed the need to continue campaign against the defaulters. The committee decided that Power Division and Ministry of Finance would jointly work out a notification based policy for the facilitation of consumers. Such policy will help curbing irregularities in the power sector.

The committee reviewed slabs of gas billing for domestic consumers. The finance minister directed the Ministry of Petroleum to review the inflated bills so as to reduce burden on consumers. He said that the Prime Minister Imran Khan has already ordered to refund the amount charged from natural gas consumers through inflated bills. He asked the Petroleum Division to adjust the inflated bills in future billing.

Petroleum Division informed the committee about the revenue shortfall being faced by the gas companies. The committee agreed to deliberate upon the issue of revenue shortfall in the ECC meeting.

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