The government considering an end to installing gas connections for residential consumers shows the severity of the energy crisis in the country. Similarly, its decision to switch to furnace oil for power generation was inevitable, for we have not explored major gas resources in the recent past. The proposed shifts in policy regarding gas utilisation are necessary to implement, given the present circumstances.

The recent series of presentations various ministries gave to the Prime Minister (PM) suggest that the officials deem liberalisation as the only way forward to overcome the worsening energy crisis. They are not wrong in thinking of this as a pragmatic answer. Many countries, including China and Argentina, rely on liberalised approaches to ensure efficiency in the energy sector.

While the modifications in gas policy might be seen as unpopular actions however, the government had run out of the options. The depleting resources of natural gas should have been seen as a significant issue by the previous government as well. Had they dared to face some public backlash, the energy crisis could not have been this dire.

Given the nature of the problem, the government has to formulate a strict strategy on management, distribution, allocation and use of gas. The recommendations of the ministries on gas, if implemented, will bring the desired reforms in the overall energy sector by default. The government’s decision to switch away from gas where possible and allow the import of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) can bridge the gap between demand and supply.

Similarly, encouraging the private sector to invest in the energy sector by offering them public-private partnerships is a good move. On the one hand, it will relieve the state from overspending in the energy sector. On the other, it will also introduce competition in the local market, ensuring fulfilment of the end consumers’ energy needs on the best market price.