Caretaker Minister for Energy Muhammad Ali on Thursday said gas prices in the country had consistently been a matter of concern, underlining that forthcoming announcements would detail the impending changes in the price of the commodity.
The minister made these remarks during a visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). Caretaker Federal Minister for Commerce, Industries, and Production, Gohar Ejaz, was also attended the event.
The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) had in June this year asked the government to increase gas tariff by 45 per cent to 50pc for all consumer groups across the country to meet revenue requirement of two gas utilities — Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) — during fiscal year 2023-24.
The government is yet to take a formal decision on the matter.
During a visit to the LCCI today, Ali addressed the issue of gas prices, emphasising regional disparities “The price of gas varies between regions, with the North having higher prices than the South,” he said.
He also highlighted the challenge of insufficient long-term LNG contracts and ongoing efforts to combat electricity theft.
During the meeting, he conveyed that measures were being taken to reduce the disparity in energy prices, but cautioned that “reducing energy prices overnight was not possible” due to the country’s commitment to the International Monetary Fund programme.
“We are under the IMF programme and all steps have to be taken carefully in this regard.”
Speaking at the meeting, Commerce Minister Ejaz underscored the ongoing efforts to address issues related to Afghan Transit Trade (ATT), stating, “Only essential goods will be allowed under ATT to curb dollar flight and smuggling.”
He drew attention to the substantial impact of the Afghan transit trade on the surge in the dollar rate, which had risen from Rs160 to over Rs300 in the past months.
The minister also highlighted the vulnerability of industry inputs, raw materials, and energy prices to international market fluctuations, which posed challenges to exports due to currency devaluation.
However, he noted that recent measures to stabilise the exchange rate had yielded positive outcomes.
Furthermore, he pointed out that the devaluation of the local currency had hindered export growth and underlined how disparities in gas supply and prices had impeded development efforts across the country.
Ejaz stressed the importance of unity and collaboration, saying “traders are the country’s assets, and everyone needs to work together for the country’s strength and prosperity.”
It is pertinent to mention here that the caretaker government had on Sep 16 pushed through another hike in the prices of petrol by Rs26.02 per litre and high-speed diesel (HSD) by Rs17.34 per litre.
The increase brought the price of petrol to Rs331.38 per litre while HSD is Rs329.18 per litre. The increase sparked widespread criticism across the country, with sporadic protests erupting in various cities due to the substantial price surge amidst already soaring inflation.