Sindh has rejected Centre’s bid to increase gas price for consumers, PA told
The Sindh government would never accept the federal administration’s proposal to include the price of imported LNG (liquefied natural gas) in the average weighted cost of natural gas because it would increase the gas price for the consumers in the province, which ironically produces most of the gas consumed in the country. This declaration was made by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday as he addressed the provincial assembly in response to the recent news conference of the federal energy minister and the prime minister’s special assistant on petroleum regarding gas pricing for consumers.
Shah said that the newspapers reporting on the news conference by the federal authorities have given the wrong impression that Sindh has agreed to the proposal that the average weighted cost of natural gas should include the LNG price.
He clarified that his government had not agreed to such a proposal and that the provincial administration would not consent to such a plan in the future as well, so that the legitimate interests of the gas consumers in the province could be safeguarded as defined in the Constitution.
“The Centre has already not been providing us gas, and now they are proposing to sell us expensive gas; this is against the Constitution,” said the chief executive in the House as he lambasted the federal government over its current energy policies.
The CM said that it is wrong to assume that during the last meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) he had agreed to any such proposal regarding the average weighted cost of natural gas for the consumers in his province.
He said that before coming to the House, he had written to the premier expressing his concerns over the statements of the federal authorities on the gas pricing issue.
He also said the PM should exercise his authority to compel his cabinet members to retract their statements over the gas pricing issue keeping in view the due constitutional rights of the residents of the province.
Shah said the people of Sindh should get preference as regards the consumption of gas that is being produced in the province in accordance with the provisions of Article 158 of the Constitution. He pointed out that Sindh accounts for up to 70 per cent of the natural gas being produced in the country.
He said Sindh’s demand for natural gas is between 2,500 and 2,600 MMCFD (million cubic feet per day), but the province is being supplied only 800 to 900 MMCFD in violation of the Constitution.
He also said that the cost of natural gas being produced in the country is around Rs520 per MMBTUs (million British thermal units), while the cost of the imported LNG is Rs1,690 per MMBTUs. He explained that including the price of the LNG in the average weighted cost of natural gas would result in a sharp increase in the gas price for the consumers in the province.
The CM said that the Centre’s proposal is in total negation of the provisions of the Constitution, adding that if federal ministers are giving such statements, then it means they do not accept the Constitution.
He said that the domestic, commercial and industrial consumers of natural gas across Sindh would equally suffer if the proposed formula for gas pricing were to be accepted.
He also said the PM should not accept the proposal in order to safeguard the constitutional rights of the people of Sindh, and to recognise the fact that the province is a part of this country and the legitimate interests of its inhabitants should be protected.
Shah said that he was yet to receive the minutes of the last CCI meeting held in Islamabad on December 23, despite the fact that under the relevant laws, the minutes should have been prepared within seven days of the meeting.
He said that there has been an undue delay in circulating the minutes of the CCI meeting, adding that such a thing should not have happened at all.
He also said that while debating on such issues, the relevant federal ministers should keep in mind the fact that the provincial government would never accept any proposal to buy expensive gas being imported into the country because the discretion to purchase gas rests with only the consumers.