PM orders countrywide crackdown against gas theft

Says govt would have offered free Haj had there been no debt load, Country paying Rs6b interest per day on loans

ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday directed for countrywide crackdown on gas thieves so that consumers could be saved from carrying the burden of Rs50 billion worth gas being stolen or wasted annually.

During a high-level meeting to review the demand and supply position of natural gas, Prime Minister Imran Khan was informed that currently the department was facing a gas theft worth Rs50 billion annually which right now is being passed on to consumers under the Head of Unaccounted for Gas(UFG).

Premier took serious notice of it and directed to come up with countrywide crackdown on gas thieves so that the consumers could be saved from bearing the burden for none of their fault.

PM was informed that government was granting Rs100 billion subsidy per annum to 91 percent gas consumers, and burden of only 10 to 35 percent increase has been made in their bills despite the fact that the gas is being purchased on high rates. While those who consumed 500 to 1000 mf gas per month had been issued increased bills keeping in view the original price of gas, and the total number of these consumers is less than 10 percent, the meeting was told.

The prime minister was informed that the Rs50 billion stolen gas was being put in the category of unaccounted for gas and the burden of stolen or wasted gas was passed on to the consumers.

The prime minister directing countrywide crackdown against gas theft said that no leniency should be given in case of unaccounted for gas. He said the performance of heads of gas companies would be evaluated from the stoppage of UFG.

The prime minister was also briefed in detail about the demand and supply of gas in summer and winter seasons, present arrangements to fulfill demand of gas for domestic, industrial and other sectors and the future requirements.

The prime minister was also briefed about the policy to fulfill requirements of gas for the years 2019 and 2020. The meeting decided to bring 200 MMCFD more gas keeping in view the requirements of gas for electricity and other sectors during the coming months.

The meeting was also briefed about the steps taken for discovery of gas and the facilities given to such companies.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Advisor to the PM on Trade, Abdur Razak Dawood, Chairman Task Force on Energy, Nadeem Babar, federal secretaries, Chairman OGRA, managing directors of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and  Sui Southern Gas Company and other officials.

Country’s future is bright, says PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday admitted the country was undergoing difficult situation, but asserted that “its future is bright”.

Addressing a gathering after inaugurating rail tracking system and Thal Express train, the Prime Minister said his government would continue waging a crusade against corruption.

Imran stated gas companies were at the brink of closure had the government not raised gas prices. “We’ve witnessed wastage of money [at government level], hence we first need to curtail our own expenses,” he underlined.

The prime minister said even the banks refused to grant loans to gas sector. “Annual gas theft of around Rs50 billion has been detected, which is alarming,” informed Khan.

He said he had curtailed expenses of the PM House by 30 percent. An auditor has also been employed at the PM House tasked with suggesting measures to further reduce expenditure, he added.

In the last 10 years, people had no fear of law. “NRO 1 and NRO 2 had eradicated fears of being caught for corruption”, said the PM.

Talking about increase in Hajj expenses, PM Khan said his government would have offered free Hajj facility had there been no huge pending loans.

“We want cooperation from China in every sector under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”, he added. He was of the view that commuting by trains was least expensive everywhere in the world. “And we are also taking measures to making life easy for the poor.”

Khan said under Railways Main Line-1 (ML1) project, people would be able to travel from Peshawar to Karachi in eight hours.

The life of a common man should be easy in Naya Pakistan, he stated.


policy on high-rise buildings


Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to review its policy pertaining to construction of high-rise buildings and their designs within 10 days.

Presiding over a high-level meeting, PM Imran directed CDA to prepare rules for converting building into skyscraper. He underscored the need to change rules and regulations about high-rise buidings and directed CDA to present a comprehensive plan for the approval of design for multistorey buildings.

Keeping in view the rising population, PM Imran Khan directed the CDA to take measures to protect the green areas in the federal capital. The prime minister also imposed ban on construction of skyscrapers in sensitive ares of Islamabad.

Earlier, the Supreme Court, on December 11, had withdrawn its restraining order against the construction of high-rises in Karachi and ruled that new buildings with more than six storeys can be built as per the relevant building laws.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, a bench of the apex court was hearing a case pertaining to the construction of high-rises at its Karachi registry.


Haj subsidy withdrawn under compulsion


Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that the government withdrew Haj subsidy under compulsion. “I know that people save money throughout the year to perform Haj. The government had to hike Hajj expenses under compulsion,” sources quoted the premier as saying while speaking to lawmakers from Rawalpindi division, who called on him at the PM House in Islamabad.

Defending the withdrawal of Haj subsidy, he said the Haj cost rose by 35 percent in Saudi Arabia too. “The government has to pay Rs6 billion on loans every day,” he said.

The prime minister assured the lawmakers of providing funds for development projects in their constituencies but cautioned that the funds won’t be given to MNAs and MPAs in future after the local governments would be made functional.

The government announced today to accept Hajj applications from February 25 to March 6 through 14 designated banks across the country.

According to the Hajj policy released by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, nearly 184,210 Pakistani pilgrims will perform Haj this year.

It is pertinent to mention here that the government withdrew subsidy on the pilgrimage, increasing the expenses by Rs176,000 for each pilgrim whereas the overall pilgrimage amounted to Rs456,000.

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