The gas slap

The government’s decision to drastically increase the prices of gas for both domestic and industrial consumers is no less than a disaster

The bid is intended to raise around Rs310 billion in a desperate attempt to secure a fresh tranche of $1

2 billion from the IMF

The stringent conditionalities from the lender will lead to bleeding of consumers under the reconfigured irrational slabs, making their lives horrible

People are already reeling under a staggering inflation of around 30% which will now skyrocket to any extent as production units too will pass on the buck to the end-consumers

What is more painful and contestable is the cabinet’s decision to hike natural gas prices in the range of 16 to 112

32% with retrospective effect from January 1 for six months

This will also have a negative impact on electricity, which is mostly produced by gas, shooting the bills out of proportion

The prescription of minimum slab for residential consumers is another enigma

The fact that the ceiling has been lowered from 50 to 25 units per month means more inflated bills despite lower consumption

This is untenable, and the new price mechanism on four proposed slabs for so-called protected and six modules of non-protected consumers is nothing but a jargon of confusion

Moreover, the fix-rate collection on gas coupled with its trickling down effect on purchasing power is certainly unbearable for millions of daily wagers and salaried class

Though the ruling dispensation seems to be in a do or die situation, its dovetailing into politics and society will be a daunting challenge, and will surely come with a public backlash

Pakistan has a serious energy crisis

It is crisscrossed on two fronts: one, securing adequate energy avenues and that too at a bearable cost; and two, to settle down on a rational price tariff without giving in to international and local dictates

This is where the growth, production and lifestyle rest

The convention of raising energy prices for budget arithmetic is unproductive

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2023

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Date:16-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link