ECC body to evolve consensus today

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ISLAMABAD - The sub-committee of federal cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) scheduled to meet today (Wednesday) is all set to evolve consensus among the stakeholders on the lingering dispute of CNG pricing lest it throws the government’s popularity graph to ‘rock bottom.’ Background interviews and discussions transpired to this scribe that a decision which ensure a win-win situation for all stakeholders would save the government skin otherwise the government would risk its popularity if CNG crisis persisted for more time ahead of general election which is fast approaching. High hopes pertaining fair resolution of commodity crisis have started increasing with the sub-committee on CNG pricing, led by Law Minister Farooq H. Naik, mandated to formulate policy guidelines for the pricing formula.

The guidelines would be forwarded to the ECC and later the federal cabinet that would direct Ogra to fix CNG price. After fixing the price, Ogra would apprise the Supreme Court that had directed it to fix the price being the competent authority.

The Monday’s meeting had remained inconclusive in evolving consensus among the stakeholders on a new CNG price formula due to absence of Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain and Petroleum Secretary Dr Waqar Masood despite the fact that this urgent meeting of sub-committee was called after the request of petroleum ministry.

However, the meeting has been once again called on Wednesday December 26 (today) for which notices has been served to 10 stakeholders including three CNG associations, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry, two consumer’s associations (NGOs) etc after the advise of the committee that in last meeting while sensitising lack of representation of owners and the consumers had advised to ensure their representations in next meeting along with their separate respective working papers on long delayed CNG pricing issue.

The apex court had ordered fixation of CNG prices after collecting evidence and holding consultations with the stakeholders. Sources privy to the development disclosed to TheNation that Ogra has sent its detailed working paper on CNG pricing to the subcommittee of the ECC, which has single point agenda to resolve much delayed CNG pricing issue as soon as possible. The regulator in its working paper has said if CNG prices are linked with the petrol price then commodity (compressed natural gas) prices will be made more expansive.

They said the regulator has suggested three prices of the commodity if it links with the per litre price of petrol. Ogra has said that with 60 per cent price parity between Petrol and CNG prices then per kilogram price of the commodity (CNG) will witness a raise by Rs29/kg, with 65 percent parity between the prices of both fuel then CNG price will find a hike by Rs44/kg, and with 80 percent price parity, CNG price will see a raise by Rs59/kg across the country.

Official documents available with this newspaper further told that with 60 per cent petrol parity, CNG price will go up from Rs61.64/kg to Rs92.48/kg, with 65 per cent petrol parity, new price of commodity will be Rs108/kg and with 80 per cent petrol parity, CNG price will reach at Rs121/kg in the country. Ogra has also given its version on petroleum ministry’s CNG policy along with the audit report of Avais Hyder Nauman Liaquat, Chartered Accountant, to the committee. This chartered firm had conducted audit of 11 CNG stations, also likely to take part in the committee meeting.

A senior leader of All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha likely to attend as a representative of the APCNGA has said that he would present a new formula on CNG consumer price with full evidence and highly positive approach ensuring the interest of consumers and CNG owners. He seems hopeful by saying,” We hope that the matter will be resolved on basis of justice, rules and fairness.”

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) President Dr Murtaza Mughal on Tuesday while lauding the decision of the sub-committee to include representatives of consumers and business chambers in formulating policy for fixing CNG prices said inclusion of all stakeholders will save stakeholders from losses and help government avoid controversies and in the future putting an end to the crisis that masses have been facing since two months.

He, however, expressed his bitter annoyance over the absence of Dr Asim Hussain and Waqar Masood during Monday’s meeting that has raised concerns among stakeholders.

“This is a purely administrative or executive domain but injustice, lack of interest on the part of government functionaries and absence of sense of urgency allow the intervention of the courts, “ Murtaza said “The CNG price can be reduced remarkably if government reduces taxes or impose similar gas price and taxation which will provide relief to millions.”

Rejecting a CNG pricing method put up by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, the ECC on December 18 formed a sub-committee to draw up a practicable gas pricing formula taking input from all the stakeholders.


Courtesy: The Nation

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