ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhary said on Tuesday that deregulation of gas
sector is going to take place and private companies would provide gas to the people after importing it.
While briefing the media about the decisions taken by the federal cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority’s (OGRA’s) annual report 2019-20 was presented to the federal cabinet and for the first time a major reform has been taken by issuing license to 10 companies for supplying gas to the people after its import. “So this is also going to be deregulated and major steps have been taken. A comprehensive policy on gas cylinders is also being brought,” he added. The gas resources are depleting by nine percent every year as 72 percent people of rural areas are bearing the burden of subsidised gas provided to 28 percent people living in urban areas.
He said that this would not be sustainable and people living in urban areas should have to mend their habits, adding there is a need to restructure the energy policy.
“The gas is depleting by nine percent every year as last year it depleted nine percent and this year also contracted by the same proportion. The resource is depleting fast and Pakistan will have no gas in the years to come,” he added.
The minister further said inflation has been declining for the last three weeks as prices of tomato and potato have decreased whereas, the prices of sugar, flour remain stable during this time.
He also said: “We are even importing pulses from New Zealand and Australia, due to which there is an imported inflation in Pakistan”.
“Our government has started giving health, as well as, ration cards to every province except Sindh, as Sindh government does not want to facilitate the masses from these initiatives,” he added.
The prices of flour, sugar is higher in Karachi and Hyderabad compared to the rest of the country, he said adding the price of flour is Rs1,347 per20kg in Karachi and Rs1,400 in Quetta, whereas, the rate of flour is Rs1,100 in other cities.
He added that the cabinet was informed that sugar is available at Rs97 per kg in Karachi, while Rs90 in other parts of the country. He requested the Sindh government to control the milk, flour and sugar prices in Karachi because Karachi contributes 40 percent in the SPI.
The minister said that farmers got Rs400 billion profit due to government policies pertaining to the agriculture sector, adding: “We are constantly providing gas to plants for the availability of fertiliser to the farmers. The government is expecting 33 million metric ton of fertiliser during this year”. Presently the government rate of urea is Rs1,700, while dealers are selling at rate of Rs2,200 per bag, he said, adding on other hand, Pakistan is importing 70 percent DAP due to which rates are higher in country.
The minister also informed that the SAPM on health also briefed the cabinet about the new Covid variant and he requested the masses to get Covid vaccine.
Replying to a question, he said that the cabinet did not consider the mini budget-related bill, adding that for the first time, the pharma industry was standing on its own feet. If any medicine’s price reaches Rs7 from Rs3 then there would be no problem because the health cards are being provided to the people, he said.
On the issue of fertilizers for farmers, the minister said that the present government has managed the urea production very appropriately despite gas shortage and as a result 33 million metric tons of urea was produced in the country. He said that the production could have been 37 million metric tons, if there was not gas shortage issue in the country. He said that the NAB chairman’s issue was not discussed. The minister said that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had sought a six-year extension for the replacement of currency notes of Rs10, 50, 100, and 1000; however, the cabinet had granted only a 12-month extension.
“Those who want to get currency notes changed should get it done in a year,” he added.
However, the Prime Minister’s Office, in a statement issued here after the meeting, said that the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan, gave a briefing on the preventive measures regarding the new type of corona variant, Omicron. The cabinet emphasized on the need to increase vaccinations, maintaining social distance, and wearing masks. The cabinet was informed that at present, 20 million people in Pakistan have not been vaccinated with the second dose of corona vaccine.