Islamabad - The government has failed to complete the quorum of OGRA despite making a commitment before the high court, thus adversely affecting and undermining the CNG sector.
Officials sources said that Ogra’s incomplete quorum made it handicapped and incapable of performing any regulatory function. The non-approval of the revenue requirements of the SSGCL and SNGPL and pending decision on GIDC for the CNG sector for the last three years are just a couple of examples, indicating how serious the issue of governance is being taken up.
On the occasion of petrol crisis in January this year, the federal government sent Ogra chairman on a forced 3-month leave and also filed a reference against him.
Against the government decision, the chairman Ogra went to court. The court restored him but the government challenged the decision again. As a result of this litigation, the government cannot appoint a full time chairman and running the authority by appointing an acting chairman. Similarly, OGRA is working without member oil and full time member finance.
A Wapda General Manager is working as Ogra’s acting finance member. He is reportedly reluctant to sign a contract for the full-time position over concerns that he will be unlikely to complete a three-year term because of the Orga-Nepra proposed merger.
The Ogra law specifies that the presence of chairman (with the acting chairman not empowered to take key decisions) as well as two members is a prerequisite for completing the quorum required to enable them to take key decisions that have repercussions on the country’s oil and gas sectors.
A couple of months ago the government had assured Lahore High Court that quorum of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) would be completed within a month, but failed to keep its words. Talking to The Nation about the negative impact of the dysfunctional OGRA on the CNG sector and its consumers, the central leader of All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha said that dysfunctional OGRA is causing loses to the CNG sector and its consumers. He said Ogra had not reviewed CNG prices for three years resultantly the sector is being operated under old pricing.
Similarly, gas companies and other departments received hundreds of thousands of rupees from CNG owners in Punjab as fixed charges every month despite closure of business for many months.
Both the consumers and CNG owners are suffering due to the incomplete quorum of the OGRA, he said. The matter of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) is still pending while on the other hand the government is demanding same from the CNG stations, he informed.
Similarly electricity prices were revised downwards and upwards several times by NEPRA but in both cases the CNG stations didn’t transfer the benefits or burden to the consumers as it is not authorised to do so without the approval of the regulatory body. Since Ogra quorum is not complete it cannot give any decision on the issue.
Furthermore, in absence of any decision from OGRA, the CNG sector failed to transfer the benefits of the decrease of taxes on gas to its consumers, Paracha maintained.
One of the reasons behind the government inaction in filling the vacancies in OGRA is that it plans to merge the two energy sector regulatory bodies, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority(OGRA) into a single regulatory authority. The government should decide quickly about the fate of OGRA as its ineffectiveness is creating problems for the already messy energy sector, he said.