PKONWEB Report (Islamabad) — Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday ordered a countrywide crackdown against natural gas theft, saying the locally produced fuel worth Rs50 billion ($357 million) was being stolen annually.
The premier’s action comes as the country’s onshore natural gas production–mainly in Sindh province, has been declining after years of under-investment, leading to the start of liquefied natural gas imports in recent years.
According to experts, the gas theft is an ongoing hand-in-glove sweet deal done in connivance with individuals in position of power, and therefore remains under the radar from the supply chain.
The theft over the years were put in the category of unaccounted-for gas (UFG) and the burden was passed on to the consumers as a “markup” among those who officially pay for the gas usage.
PM Khan, while ordering the crackdown against gas theft, said no leniency should be shown in the case of UFG. He added that the performance of the heads of the gas companies would be evaluated on the basis of stopping the UFG.
If checked and eliminated, how much can this stolen amount relate to if gas supply is made to the have nots?
A quick calculation shows that nearly 17 million households countrywide could benefit, official revenue collection by the government notwithstanding. The additional households that the gas could be provided equate to well over 54 percent of the country’s present 32 million household.
Population-wise, the additional beneficiaries of gas would equal over 9 percent of the 207 million population.
These figures assume that an average household spending on gas bill is Rs.3000 presently.
The government was also giving Rs100 billion ($714 million) subsidy to 91 per cent consumers, it has been learnt.
(With input from Khurram Shahzad)
US$1 = PKR140)