PM seeks roadmap to steer the country out of the gas crisis

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has issued directives for preparing a roadmap to steer the country out of the gas crisis.
Addressing a seminar on ‘Sustainability, Security and Affordability of Natural Gas Supply in Pakistan,’ organised by Petroleum Division here on Wednesday, the Prime Minister pointed out that the indigenous gas reserves are depleting and the country is now importing the gas.
The Prime Minister, however, said there is a big difference in the price of domestic gas and the imported gas. This is resulting in the increase of circular debt in the gas sector. He pointed out that twenty seven percent of households have access to piped gas whilst the remaining rely on the LPG cylinders which is four times more expensive than the piped gas. He said the subsidy should be such that it facilitates the poor lot.
“To date, we were relying on indigenous gas, the reserves of which are depleted now. We really need to think about it, especially when winter is around the corner and there is usually a shortage of gas supply,” he said.
“First of all, we need to debate while keeping a hawk’s eye on the development of the country. It is also not possible that a province progresses and the country’s economy fails. We are assuming that there are gas reserves and we can extract gas but we are still not sure about it,” he said.
“This debate is important for us because of the gas situation” in Pakistan since winters bring shortages every year, he explained, warning that the challenge would likely become a “bigger problem next winters”.
With imported gas costing Rs17 a unit, selling it for Rs14 a unit creates a gap worth Rs3 a unit, which leads to the worsening situation Pakistan is in, he said. “We are hoping for a consensus,” he said. “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has spoken of its interests but, eventually, the national interest needs to be promoted too,” he added.
“We know that it’s quite an expensive process but I am expecting that we can build a national consensus while bringing all provinces on board.”
Imran Khan regretted that no long-term planning was done in the past to cope with the energy crisis. He said no effort was also made to exploit the hydro potential of the country to produce cheap electricity.
The Prime Minister said, “We are grateful to the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for renegotiating the contracts with the government.” He further said, “We will apprise the nation next week of the savings to be accrued from these renewal of contracts that will help reduce burden on the people.”
He said that Pakistan requires a national consensus on the ongoing natural gas situation, as well as the subsidies that are fuelling a circular debt crisis. He stressed on how if the country had debated on which fuel to use to produce electricity, “we would have not faced such crisis”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that human development, especially facilitating weaker segments of society and bringing them out of poverty, is top priority of his government.
The Prime Minister was talking to a delegation of the United Nations Development Program-led by UNDP Representative in Pakistan Aliona Niculita here on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister said that it is top priority of the incumbent government that state resources should be utilized for the welfare of the people and the country’s development. He said his government and the UNDP share the objectives; hence, the government will provide all possible cooperation to UNDP to ensure accomplishment of common goals.
He lauded the services of UNDP in the field of human development in Pakistan and assured that the government would provide all possible assistance to the UNDP to ensure the fulfilment of common goals. He said in the past, the influential class paralysed the system and took advantage of the state resources.
Appreciating Imran Khan’s special interest in human development, Aliona Niculita said that the Prime Minister’s personal interest is helping the UNDP achieve its goals. She said the government is pursuing sustainable development goals and provision of effective strategy and resources is laudable. She thanked the Prime Minister for the government’s support to the UNDP.
Planning Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz, Finance Advisor Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Special Assistant for Social Security Dr Sania Nishtar and other senior officials attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan called on Prime Minister Imran Khan here on Wednesday. Matters pertaining to the ministry were discussed in the meeting.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved additional posts on the cadre of Secretariat Group to boost the promotion prospects of the Group.
According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister Office, Imran Khan directed that said rules may be placed before the federal cabinet for its approval. The statement said that this approval means an addition of 15 posts for BS-21, 29 posts for BS-20 and 44 posts for BS-19, which will enhance the promotion prospects of Secretariat Group significantly.
The PM office said that Civil Service of Pakistan Rules, 1954 provided for induction of PCS/PMS officers in Pakistan Administrative Service after requisite amendments in 2014. It said that these amendments will provide opportunity to eligible PCS/PMS officers to be inducted in PAS on the same lines as is being done in the Police Service of Pakistan and Office Management Group.
This step is likely to strengthen the Federation as provincial officers will now also form part of an All Pakistan Service and would serve the entire length and breadth of the country.
The statement said that the Prime Minister has also approved the appointments of technically qualified and experienced persons from the open market based on the needs of various Ministries/Divisions in BS-19 and BS-20, on contract basis.
It said the proposal will not affect the cadre strength of any occupational group and will bring in the much needed technical resource in the policy-making of the federal government from the private sector.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has reiterated the government’s resolve to remove all hindrances for the promotion of small & medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
Chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee for SMEs here on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said the government will also provide all possible incentives to the sector.
He directed the authorities concerned to adopt international best practices to provide facilities and incentives to SMEs. The Prime Minister said that SMEs play a key role in stabilizing and promoting the country’s economy. He said that the present government is paying special attention to construction and promotion of SMEs.
The Prime Minister directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to prepare a workable roadmap for promotion of SMEs in the next two weeks.
The Prime Minister was briefed about the proposed SME Policy 2020. – TLTP

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