ISLAMABAD, 11 February, 2020: “Despite producing around 70 per cent of the gas in the country, Sindh is facing a massive supply shortfall. How does this not defy the Constitution of Pakistan which, under Article 158, gives Sindh, or any province where the well-head of the resource is located, the first rights over it? It is a legitimate and principled demand and one that should not be misconstrued to suggest that Sindh is against supplying gas to the rest of the country. Once Sindh’s own demand is met it can always supply the surplus. Is it fair that the province which produces around 2500 mmcfd gas per day has no gas in its pipelines while its people endure extreme winters?” PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman questioned as a Mover during the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum.
Rehman added, “The Centre is basing its entire argument on Sindh not providing the right of way for laying gas pipelines but it has neither given any pricing formula nor any discussion to solve the issue equitably. The government is asking Sindh to purchase expensive imported gas under the weighted average cost formula while it buys cheap gas from it. Its local gas price is Rs. 820 per unit while the price of LNG is much higher at around Rs. 1,700 per unit. Besides this, for the substantial contribution Sindh makes, it has no representation in the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and other government owned energy organizations which is incomprehensible”.
“The supply-demand gap for gas in the country has widened to 12 per cent and is worsening. In Karachi, there isn’t enough gas to make a cup of tea. Despite raising gas prices by over 200 per cent, people are not getting any of it,” regretted the Senator who had last month called the Petroleum Minister’s attention to the existing gas crisis in the country, particularly Sindh and had asked the matter to be sent to the Committee.
Objecting over the Petroleum Minister’s absence from the meeting, Rehman said “We want these issues to be solved amicably but the government seems neither interested in meetings nor follow-ups. Such attitude can lead to a constitutional crisis between provinces. If an issue cannot be thoroughly discussed and resolved in the Committees, if we cannot have a due process of accountability with ministers remaining absent, why bother with these make-believe procedural formalities of calling in such meetings? It is all very insulting to the participants who too make themselves available despite their busy schedules to address important issues. This gas issue has been lingering for the past six months but the government is dragging it on and on”.