The National Assembly was informed today that the country is facing two billion cubic feet gas shortage.

Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Jam Kamal Khan told the House during question hour that there is no plan to decrease the import of crude oil because the country is already running short of gas. He said private sector refineries import the crude oil and the government cannot slash down their imports.

He informed the House that over one point four million domestic applications of new gas connections are pending with Sui Northern and thirty-three thousand with Sui Southern Gas Company. He said that the policy of the government is to provide connections to those who have applied first.

Jam Kamal Khan said that SNGPL has requested OGRA for revision/ increase of Annual Targets from 250‚000 to 500‚000 for timely provision of gas connections. He said the company has informed that a proposal for processing domestic gas connection against urgent fee 25‚000 to the extent of 10 percent of total annual allocation has been forwarded to OGRA for its approval so that domestic gas connections may be provided expeditiously within a time period of three months.

He said in 2012-13 the import of crude oil equals to 7286 million tons worth 5849 million dollars while the quantity of crude oil imported in 2011-12 was 6104 million tons worth 5058 million US dollars.

To a question‚ Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmad on behalf of Communications Minister told the House that in principle Lyari Expressway had to complete in 2004 but due to issues of land acquisition‚ the project is delayed. He said the government is working on completion of this project with a slight change in plan.

He said so far‚ construction of Motorway has not been started in Sindh. He said National Highway Authority has planned conversion of existing four lane Karachi-Hyderabad-Superhighway into six lane motorway (M-9).

He said Karakoram Highway is under reconstruction between Raikot to Khunjerab and government is working on the speedy completion of this strategic road with the help of Chinese authorities.

To another question‚ Shaikh Aftab told the House that there is a proposal under consideration of government to launch transit project name Pak-China Economic Corridor. He said the tentative alignment has been cleared subject to feasibility studies containing‚ commercial‚ technical and hydraulic aspects of the project.

He said the project is expected to facilitate transit trade in country. He said it will have Economic Zones en-route and will allow reaping of full benefits of development‚ economic and social uplift and creation of jobs in the country.

Shaikh Aftab said that between March 2008 to March 2013 total seventy-eight communication projects were under construction‚ out of which 36 projects worth 129.23 billion rupees have been completed whereas work on 42 projects is on halt. He said NHA is waiting for funds allocated for these projects.

To another question‚ low BTU gas has been discovered at Ghar Maharaja‚ Tehsil Ahmad Pur Syal. Regarding the criteria of recruitment of employees at Bahu Field‚ he said that currently 94 employees are working at Bahu Filed‚ out of which 25 are regular‚ two on contract‚ 67 are on daily wages.

Minister of States for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmad introduced before the House to further amend the bill The Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act‚ 1973 as "The Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill‚ 2013".

Replying to a call attention notice moved by Saman Sultana Jaffri and others regarding increase in the prices of petroleum products‚ Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Jam Kamal Khan informed the House that increase in petroleum prices is linked with international markets rates and there is devaluation of Pakistani rupee.

He said government has reduced the levy by one-rupee per liter‚ however‚ we cannot do much in reducing petroleum prices. He said if government goes for subsidy then it will overburden the exchequer.