ISLAMABAD - National Assembly panel meeting was yesterday marred by a verbal bout between Petroleum Minister and opposition lawmakers.

The country is passing through a difficult time but some people in the government is taking advantage of PIA crises, MQM Senator Abdul Waseem said in the senate standing committee pointing towards the Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources.

Two MNA’s of MQM Abdul Wasim and Sajid Ahmad arrived in the middle of proceeding, saying they are late because of the PIA crises. Abdul Wasim lashed out at the incumbent government, especially minister Khaqan Abbasi who reportedly owns the airliner company.He said that his(minister) company is charging extra fare from the customers.

“I have paid Rs 17000 instead of Rs 10000 and my other colleague paid Rs 19000, in your Air Blue airline,” MQM Senator Abdul Waseem, who came from Karachi for attending the meeting of the National Assembly standing committee on petroleum, said. The meeting of the standing committee was presided over by Bilal Ahmed Virk.

This forum is not for discussing personal issues and your tune is also not decent, Khaqan Abbasi told the MQM MNA. You are talking nonsense, Abdul Waseem replied. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the answer to nonsense will be nonsense.

“I myself travelled through PIA few months ago and purchased ticket for Rs 28000,”the minister said. Abdul Waseem also criticizing the government for decreasing the prices of petrol by only Rs 5 per litre and said that “you haven’t done any wonder by decreasing the petrol prices by Rs 5 only as internationally the prices has gone down by $ 15 to 20 per barrel,”. The MQM’s MNAs then left the meeting in protest.

Abbasi then told the committee, that air blue is a public limited company and “I have never been to its office during the past two years,”. Regarding sale of expensive tickets the minister said that there is competition commission and other departments and I want them to take action again air blue.

The chairman of the committee pointing towards the empty seat of the MQM MNA sajid Ahmad said that he is talking nonsense and alleged that “He asked me to convene the meeting of the standing committee when the National Assembly is not in session so that he could get his TA/DA.”

Earlier the opposition lawmakers in the standing committee asked the government to bring ‘transparency’ in the proposed LNG’s deal, as it has kept them  in complete ignorance and instead of bringing it in parliament, the government went ahead through a simple SRO.

Last month, the National Assembly had referred this calling attention notice moved by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s MNA Dr. Shereen Mazari regarding “complete lack of information about LNG deal involving huge amount of money” to the committee. But, it was not publically discussed in the committee.

Mazari just verbally asked a few question during the meeting that what was the result of multiple bids? What is expected rate of return of the deal? What is the name of the Qatari Company? Who is the owner of the company? Since, earlier, gas distribution companies were not ready to take the LNG supply, but how they were been made agree upon it?

Shireen Mazari sought reply from the minister, but the chairman of the committee suggested the ministry to reply them in written form. Petroleum Minister, however replied, “Although, the agreement has not been signed yet, we have mentioned everything in a summary to be provided to the lawmakers of the committee.”

Reply to the question regarding alleged Rs142 billion oil thefts with the connivance of employees of PSO since June 2013, was not given as the mover was not present. However, a MQM MNA alleged that that the mover of the bill, Muhammad Ali, was not been intimated for the meeting in advance. 

In reply to the committee question about status of exploration and production (E&P) companies whose licenses were either revoked or served with show cause notices. The Director General Petroleum Concession (DGPC) apprised the committee that action was initiated against twenty six exploration licenses belonging to eleven non-performing companies who had defaulted in meeting their work commitments. He further informed that eleven licenses had been revoked while the rest were at personal hearing stage and the process will be completed in coming days. The Committee also directed the DG (PC) to present details of successful/unsuccessful oil and gas wells of all the companies operating in Pakistan to the Committee in its next meeting.

The Shortage of gas, excessive load-shedding and over-billing by gas companies also came under discussion. The Chairman directed the Gas Companies to address reported excessive gas load-shedding and over-billing in certain parts of the country as pointed out by the Members of the Committee. The Committee was informed that due to gap between the supply and demand of gas, the Companies were constrained to manage load in accordance with sectoral priority fixed by Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet. The representatives of the Gas companies informed that the gas bills were being issued to the consumers as per meters installed at customers’ premises in accordance with notified gas tariff and no case of over-billing in their franchise area had been reported.

Acting MD of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), Amir Tufail briefing the committee regarding gas load shedding and supply said, currently, the company is getting 1180 mmcfd gas while demand is 2100 mmcfd with huge deficit. In Punjab, the domestic and commercial demand is 917 mmcfd while supply is 659mmcfd, due to the huge gap consumers faces load shedding, however compare to previous years, it has been successfully managed.  He further said that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa current gas production is 375mmcfd while its demand is 326mmcfd with a surplus of 49mmcfd.

Minister said that for the first time in the history of the country, the KP government has been allowed to use 100 mmcfd gas for power plant and a summary has been sent to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet, for the purpose. Earlier PPIB was authorized to install the power plants but now the KP government will install it, he added.

The minister said that there is no ban on domestic gas connections; however it is still there on the housing societies. Every year SNGPL is permitting 300000 new gas connections, he added.

The meeting was attended by Shahid Khaqan Abassi, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Jam Kamal Khan, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources, MNAs Muhammad Arshad Khan Leghari, Malik Ihtebar Khan, Mian Tariq Mehmood, Rana Muhammad Ishaq Khan, Rasheed Ahmad Khan, Abdul Waseem, Sajid Ahmad, Akram Khan Durrani, Additional Secretary M/o P&NR and other senior officers of the concerned departments.