ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar Tuesday indicated in the Senate that the federal government would have to increase the prices of CNG to remove disparity between the prices of different fuel products that would be necessary to overcome the gas shortage in the country.Concluding the debate on different adjournment motions in the house regarding increase in the prices of gas, CNG and petroleum (POL) products as well as shortage and loadshedding of gas in the country, the minister said that as soon as the government would not make balance between the prices of different fuels by increasing the prices of CNG, the country could not overcome the shortage of gas. He also said that the prices of gas would also increase after the government would get it through TAPI gas project, Iran Pakistan gas pipeline project or through the import of LNG as the supplying countries would not give subsidy to the Pakistani government on it.About the recent increase in POL products, the water and power minister informed the house that the government could not change the equation of pricing formula of petroleum products as their prices were determined keeping in view the international prices. “Ogra notifies the POL prices at the same rate at which is imported in addition to proper taxation and calculating the average prices of POL products of previous 30 months,” he explained, adding that 85 per cent of POL products were being imported out of the total usage capacity in Pakistan. The minister also said that the government collected Rs 20 per liter on diesel and Rs 23 per liter on petrol in the shape of taxes. He further said that the government was unable to minimise taxes on POL products or subsidize it as the step would inflict loss to the national economy up to 200 billion in the form of deficit and this would increase more inflation in the country.Giving the reason of continues increase in POL prices; he said that these had increased up to 45 percent from 65 dollars per barrel to 110 dollars per barrel during the previous years while value of dollar had also increased from Rs 65 to 90 as compared with Pakistani rupee rupees during the same period.Giving his explanation CNG and gas shortage, Naveed Qamer admitted that they had not objectively used the gas resources as the industry and power sector used to get priority over gas usage all over the world and for domestic and transport use at minimum level. “We will have to rebalance the fuel prices by increasing CNG prices as the prices of CNG today is 55 percent of petroleum prices,” he said. Mr Qamar further informed that around some two lack (2,00000) applications for new gas connections were still pending with the SSGPL and SNGPL, both gas supplying companies, on the existing system and their number would increase up to five lack (5,00000) during the next five years.Earlier, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Moulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri opening the debate on the adjournment motions rejected the recent increase in POL prices as well as of gas saying, “ We don’t accept increase in POL and gas prices and these should be withdrawn immediately,” He also termed the performance of present government worse than the Musharraf regime. Many lawmakers taking part in the debate viewed that the continuous increase in domestic POL prices had no correlation with their increase at international level. They further said that POL prices at international level have not increase too much level, as the government had increased these at domestic level. The lawmakers including MQM and ANP, the collation partners of the government, and opposition benches condemned the government’s recent decision for increase in POL prices and for its failure to overcome the energy and power crisis in the country especially of gas and electricity. Ilyas Balour, a legislator of ANP, complained the government did not consult them on such important decisions.Prof Khurshid Ahmed in his remarks said that the government was running its policies on day-to-day basis and had made no strategic plan to overcome energy crisis in the country. “A strategic plan for a minimum period of 10 years should be made for this purpose,” he suggested adding that the government should abolish the policy to increase POL prices on monthly basis. He also said that government was collecting unnecessary and unwanted taxes on POL products. Raja Zafarul Haq of PML-N considered bad governance as the major cause of energy crisis. Professor Ibrahim came down hard on the MQM and said that once it had resigned from the government benches as a protest over the government’s decision to increase in POL prices and then rejoined it when these were increased again.Tahir Hussain Mashhadi held the government responsible for energy crisis in the country and said that weak governance, political interference, nepotism, favouritism, over billing and non-payment of arrears were the major causes of it. He also said that government was receiving double taxes on POL products.Chairman Senate Farooq H Naek referred the Special Economic Zones Bill, 2011, that provided for the setting up and operation of special economic zones in Pakistan to the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce on the request of senators for further consideration.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 08-Feb-2012 here.