ISLAMABAD - The Cabinet Committee on Energy was Wednesday informed that the gas prices are determined by OGRA and the consumers are billed according to the billing slabs in which they fall.

The meeting of the CCoE was called on the instructions of the Prime Minister to look into the matter of inflated gas bills for the consumers. Federal Minister for Finance Asad Umar chaired the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy.

Mian Asad Hayaud Din, Additional Secretary In-charge of the Petroleum Division, gave a detailed presentation to the chair on the recent billing exercise of the gas sector. Chairman OGRA and MD SNGPL also gave their input on the recent gas billing exercise during the presentation. It was briefed to the participants of the meeting that the gas prices are basically determined by OGRA and the consumers are billed according to the billing slabs in which they fall. The Secretary in-charge of the Petroleum Division briefed the finance minister that the Petroleum Division is aware of the difficulties being faced by the people and an inquiry has already been launched to look into the matter and the report of the inquiry will be available in the next meeting. The inquiry has been based on five basic ToRs which cover the billing issue from different angles.

On being asked by the chair, the secretary also briefed the finance minister that there has been an overall increase of 8% in the consumption pattern of the consumers falling in the lowest consumption slab. He also briefed the minister that out of the total 6400,000 gas consumers only 92,000 that fall in the 6th and 7th (highest consumption slabs) are affected by the increase that is more than Rs 14000. It was also pointed out by chairman OGRA that during the month of December the domestic consumption of gas doubles which has changed the pricing slabs for many consumers. However, she also suggested that the data for the last two months may be looked into to find any prominent anomaly to satisfy the consumers.

The meeting also briefly discussed the issue of gas theft and the action taken against any illegal practices and the determination of the unaccounted for Gas (UFG) loss benchmark.

The chair decided that in the next Cabinet Committee on Energy meeting, an audit report for the billing during December and January (conducted by the external auditors of SNGPL, the Fergusons) will be presented to the committee along with the inquiry report on excessive billing conducted by the Petroleum Division and any proposals on the review of the gas prices slabs that may benefit the consumers. The next meeting will be held in the coming week. The chair said that the government is highly sensitive to the problems being faced by the general public and any innovative solution to their problems will be implemented on priority basis.