Member Gas accused of intimidating, terrorising distributors of the LPG

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Asif Shaikh

KARACHI: The Cabinet Division has sought an explanation from Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) on the matter of alleged ill-treatment and misbehavior to the delegation of LPG Distributors Association by Member Gas OGRA Muhammad Arif in a meeting summoned on the issue taking action against the powerful cartel involved in black marketing of LPG and minting around eight billion rupees.
In this regard the Cabinet Division’s letters No. 6/10/2008. RA.ii/OGRA and U O.NO 19/2/2022 were written to the chairman OGRA informing that an application has been presented to Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani (Public Petition No. 4899) in which a reference was made to OGRA’s meeting held on September 12 about LPG prices and black marketing where Member Gas Muhammad Arif threatened of serious consequences while adopting an inappropriate attitude towards the LPG distributors delegation. The Secretary of Cabinet Division has been asked for comments and the matter has been referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat.
It is pertinent to mention here that an important meeting was held in OGRA office Islamabad with Chairman OGRA Masroor Khan and his team regarding the issues of black marketing of LPG and how to control it.
The meeting continued for almost an hour during which while the Chairman OGRA was keen to devise some effective strategy against over-charging but like previous meeting it was noted that Member Gas Muhammad Arif was least bit interested, had casual attitude in the deliberations, and at times resorted to misbehaving and abusive language with almost all distributors during discussion, sabotaging the serious and noble effort of the Chairman OGRA to curb black marketing.
The Member OGRA somewhat ordered Chairman LPG Industries Association Irfan Khokhar at the end of the meeting to meet him personally next day (13 September 2022) for discussion on the issue. When on his command, Khokhar reached the OGRA office at the allotted time, Mr Arif already was with some visitor. However Khokhar apprised him that for the last 20-25 days, historical black marketing of LPG was under way in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Bulistan and other areas. About Rs 20 per kg, Rs 2,400 on domestic cylinder, Rs 9,000 on commercial cylinder and Rs 2,000 per metric ton extra were being charged against OGRA prices fixed for September. Black marketers are pocketing around Rs 400 million on daily basis and in last 20-25 days about Rs 8 billion has been swindled. Hearing this notion, Arif became furious and started calling names to Khokhar. He also threatened him of dire consequences. Khokhar was so shocked at his unruly attitude that he left the office in utter disgust.
The irony of the matter is that black marketing of LPG has broken all previous records across the country and around Rs 8 billion were swindled from poor segment of the society. Almost Rs 400 million worth of LPG is being sold in black market every day
A big question is where the locally produced LPG has vanished as illicit sale of LPG at Rs 200 per kg, domestic cylinder at Rs2,400 and commercial cylinder at Rs 9,000 is underway for last 20 to 24 days and black marketers have slurped around 8 billion rupees of people’s hard-earned money.
The LPG Industries Association is of the view that local gas is being monopolized by a few people due to which black marketing is rampant. The distributors accuse that Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority Member (Gas) Muhammad Arif is wholly and solely responsible for this black marketing and has requested Prime Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif for strict action against him.
Chairman LPG Industries Association Irfan Khokhar stresses that the local production is enough to meet the requirement yet black marketing continues. Whereas, at SSGC Terminal and at EVTL in Port Qasim 4500 MT 3500 MT of LPG respectively are available readily. He said that about 400 Bozers are parked at Taftan border awaiting opening of the routes to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Khokhar asserted that there was no LPG shortfall of any kind.
The OGRA statistics show that 74,000 metric tons of LPG was imported in August 2021 followed by 88,000 metric tons in August 2022.