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PM calls for national consensus to tackle looming gas crisis

ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Khan on Wednesday issued a passionate appeal for building national consensus to rid the country of the imminent natural gas crises as well as thickening circular debt.

While addressing a seminar on Sustainability of Natural Gas Supply, he said out that the indigenous gas reserves are depleting and the country is now importing the gas, hence there was a dire need to prepare a roadmap to steer the country out of gas crisis.

The PM Khan warned that the country was heading towards a gas crisis. “I am alarmed because there will be a problem (during) this (upcoming) winter but an even bigger problem next winter,” he said. He expressed hope that the participants of the seminar, led by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, would reach a consensus.

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.

“There is such a big gulf between the imported gas and the price we sell it at which is increasing our circular debt. We are producing electricity at Rs17 per unit but selling it at Rs14 per unit which is adding to our circular debt,” the premier said.  

He said that people would have to bear the burden of the import costs and it would also result in an increase of circular debt in the energy sector. He pointed out that twenty seven percent of our 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 facilitates the poor lot.

Talking about the shortage of gas in the country, the PM highlighted the problems faced by the provinces. “Punjab has a deficit and is facing problems. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa says that it uses very little of the gas it produces,” he said.

The premier said that Pakistan had a lot of potential in the hydro-electricity sector but it had not been utilised because previous governments did not focus on it. “No one thought of it because our system is such that political parties plan only for elections so they can get immediate results. Nobody thought about it, even during military rule.

“If we had debated about what kind of energy mix Pakistan should have and what fuel should have been used to generate electricity sooner, our industry would not be in trouble today and our people would not be burdened.”

Referring to subsidies, the prime minister said that they were not being used for their “original purpose”.

“Subsidies are given for two reasons: to lift people up and to create wealth. Subsidies should increase wealth, GDP, per capita income and for a country like ours, help with returning loans.

“The recent presentation I received on subsidies revealed that totally different people are taking subsidies,” he said. He expressed the hope that the seminar would also discuss alternate sources of gas and power generation. He thanked the independent power producers (IPPs) for their agreement with the government.

“I am very thankful to IPPs because the agreement with them will provide a huge relief for the people.”

The prime minister also emphasised the importance of debates on matters of national interest. “The debate in the seminar is very important to see where we are going, how to tackle our depleting gas reserves and the difference between locally produced and imported gas,” he added.

Citing the example of China, who he said had “developed at a rapid pace not seen before” because the government had a robust system of debates. “They have splendid debates. They have a great system of meritocracy and their leadership reaches the positions they are at through rigorous struggle. Secondly, they have great long-term planning. This is very important,” the premier said.

“When a country does long-term planning, then it avoids situations like the one Pakistan is stuck in today,” he remarked.

PM reiterates resolve to remove all barriers for the promotion of SMEs

Prime Minister Imran Khan has reiterated government’s resolve to remove all hindrances for the promotion of Small Medium Enterprises in the country. Chairing a meeting of National Coordination Committee for SMEs in Islamabad today, he 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.

Imran Khan directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to prepare a workable roadmap for promotion of SMEs in the next two weeks. Prime Minister was briefed about proposed SME Policy 2020.

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