The prices of oil products have gone down as the cost of crude oil in the international market has tanked to less than 40 dollars. The government, though, has enhanced the rates of gas by 7.5% and that of CNG by 10 % or more from January 1. This out-of-the-blue shock for the general public is a bit too much because it is already reeling under the weight of high cost of other consumer utilities. With the increase in gas prices, the cost of power generation as well as industrial and fertilizer production would increase proportionally which would consequently affect every household in the country. The most affected will be the poor and middle class stratums whose source of income is limited. The treasury benches in the parliament had assured on the floor of the house only a few weeks ago that there will be no increase in gas rates. May I ask the authorities what justification they had for increasing the price of this most vital commodity, which is totally indigenous and is used by the industry, IPPs, and rich and poor households alike? -SHAFQAT HUSSAIN QURESHI, Hyderabad, via e-mail, January 4.