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January 14, 2020

Govt, opposition trade barbs in NA over gas shortage

National

January 14, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly (NA) on Monday echoed with concerns of parliamentarians over gas shortage in the country leading to verbal clash between the Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan and opposition members.

The verbal clash between the minister and PPP parliamentarians erupted when the House was taking up a calling attention notice regarding gas shortage. The two sides exchanged some unparliamentary language forcing the presiding officer and ex-Speaker Syed Fakhar Iman to expunge their objectionable words.

Syed Fakhar Imam, however, asked the opposition members not to politicise issues and restrict to the subject. He also told them that they should expect answers of their questions in the same tone used by them.

Earlier, PPP parliamentarians Abdul Qadar Patel and Agha Rafiullah accused the minister of not speaking the truth. Patel went to the extent of saying that the minister should be ashamed of not telling the truth and hiding facts.

The PPP members said that as per Article 158 of the Constitution, the provinces should have first right on their natural resources. "We will not compromise on our constitutional right and will get that," Abdul Qadar Patel said. Agha Rafiullah said it was due to spirit of democracy that Omar Ayub also used to defend PML-N and PML-Q governments and now he is defending the PTI regime.

The Minister angrily responded to the PPP members saying the members were feeling the pain of his (minister’s) presence in the House. As members from both sides started exchanging harsh language, the presiding officer intervened and expunge objectionable remarks.

Syed Fakhar Imam taking advantage of his seniority and experience continued to discipline parliamentarians. “You should learn ethics as how to behave in the House,” Fakhar Imam on an occasion told members adding that he was saying so in view of his experience and as senior parliamentarian.

The members from MQM, an ally of the government also joined voices of the opposition members against gas shortage.

The MQM member Iqbal Muhammad Ali said it was for the first time that Karachi is also facing gas shortage and so much so the gas had disappeared from locality of the Defence Housing Authority.

Another MQM member Fahim Khan said that all industrial units in Karachi were facing closure while domestic consumers were also facing gas shortage. He asked the minister to summon Managing Director Sui Southern.

Zahid Akram Durrani, the JUI-F member from Bannu and parliamentarians from Hazara also complained gas shortage.

Responding to points of order, the minister for power alleged that it was due to incompetency of the past governments that issues like gas shortage could not be resolved.

He informed the House that current domestic availability of gas is 3.5 billion cubic feet against demand of 7.5 billion cubic feet. The minister said the government had allowed five LNG terminals while another five terminals would also be permitted in future.

He said situation of gas supply in Karachi would improve in the next 24 fours with injection of considerable quantity in the system.

The minister also pointed out Sindh province currently is producing 2,243million cubic feet of gas out of which 700 million cubic feet is supplied by Sui Southern to fertilizer companies, 1,400 million cubic feet to consumers while 500 million cubic feet is put in system of Sui Northern Gas out which 250 million cubic feet is again returned to energy sector of Sindh.

Meanwhile, the government as per decision of the National Assembly on Nov 7, 2019 moved a motion to withdraw ‘The Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission Bill, 2019,’ which provides for the establishment of the Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission. The bill was then referred to the standing committee concerned.

The House also passed the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority [The Federal Government Employees Housing Authority Bill, 2020] and the Bill further to amend the Banks (Nationalization) Act, 1974 [The Banks (Nationalization) (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The two bills have already been passed by the Senate.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly was informed on Monday that the revenue of the Ministry of Power has increased to Rs229 billion in one year due to the corrective measures taken by present government.

Minister for Power Omar Ayub told the House during Questions Hour that Rs112 billion was generated through recoveries and taking action against the power pilferage. He said 7,000 people involved in the pilferage were arrested.

Omar Ayub said, “We have reduced the flow of circular debt to Rs10 to Rs12 billion a month from Rs39 billion left behind by the PML-N government.

The Minister for Power said 80 percent of the total feeders have been cleared of load shedding.

He said a significant progress has been made in exploiting the wind, solar and biomass potential available in the country.

He said a policy has also been formulated by the present government to increase the share of renewable energy up to the level of 20 percent by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030.

Omar Ayub told the House that a Saudi company has expressed interest to invest four billion dollars in renewable energy sector of Pakistan.

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