The government has found out what has been causing the complaints of excessive billing among the domestic gas consumers – and it’s not due to higher prices.
The federal government, with the approval of Prime Minister Imran Khan, levied a hike in gas prices last year in October. The costs were slabbed ‘carefully’ and were not supposed to hurt the lower class of the society, as the government claimed.
But, in January – after two and a half months of the increase, cries of ‘over-billing’ and ‘increased prices’ emerged among the consumers, which was a shocker for the government.
Prime Minister Imran Khan swiftly took notice of the issue and has called a cabinet meeting with a one-point agenda.
However, a leading daily has cited information from ‘some inside sources’ and the ‘background discussions with key players’ before the meeting, that OGRA and SNGPL have worked out the core reason behind the issue.
According to the report, sources from the OGRA and SNGPL have confirmed that the ‘pressure factor’ has played a crucial role in excessive billings.
It explains that at the time of slabbing, the government had not kept the ‘pressure factor’ in mind – and now after the fresh supply of LNG – the gas pressure has increased which caused extra usage of the gas.
As a result, 20 percent of consumers that fell into the lower slab have migrated to the top three slabs in December 2018-January 2019, causing an exponential rise in the billings.
Secondly, the gas supply companies were already using a presumptive pressure factor which is used as an adjustment for the use of compressors by a consumer or any other method of tinkering with the gas regulator to secure higher than available gas pressure.
Who to Blame?
OGRA has reportedly blamed SNGPL for this ‘miscalculation’ and has urged it to take corrective measures.
The regulator has reportedly asked SNGPL to use the correct pressure factor in the domestic billing and make an adjustment in bills on this account.
The SNGPL, on the other hand, has sought guidance from OGRA on whether to discontinue the practice of using presumptive factor and cut the supplies to consumers fiddling with the gas pressure with different tactics – or to continue with the existing method.
The ball is, however, in PM Khan’s court who will decide on it once the inquiry report is submitted.