Stakeholders for cheep LPG to prevent deforestation
ISLAMABAD – Stakeholders at a seminar have urged the federal government to take immediate measures to reduce liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices and prevent deforestation in the hilly areas.
The people of hilly areas, especially for people deprived of piped gas supply, as higher prices are leading residents in many areas to cut down trees in their own backyards for firewood.
Speaking at the seminar titled ‘LPG, once termed poor man’s fuel’ the sector experts slammed high taxes on LPG and urged the government to resume Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited (JJVL) LPG plant, which has not been functioning for several years, to meet the domestic gas demand.
Farooq Iftikhar, chairman Pakistan LPG Marketers Association (PLPGMA), said the daily local production of the fuel was 2,500 tonnes against 3,000 tonnes of imports, but somehow the local LPG cost more to marketing companies “due to a faulty pricing formula.”
Iftikhar said Pakistan’s LPG pricing was linked to Saudi Aramco’s contract price, 17 per cent GST and the petroleum development levy (PDL) of Rs4,669 a tonne.
“The result is expensive LPG, which is inaccessible to poor citizens, mainly in rural areas and katchi abadis, who do not have piped gas supply from the SSGC or SNGPL at their homes,” he said, adding that such households existed even in Islamabad.
So, what will these people do, they cut down trees and this is on the rise,” he said. “The solution is to provide cheaper LPG,” he said.
He pointed out that the government was fetching Rs6.5 billion a year in PDL imposed on LPG, a figure too small considering the direct and indirect losses resulting from cutting down trees and the high health risks associated with the use of smoke-emitting fuel.
“Countries like India and Bangladesh were promoting the use of LPG by giving subsidies to end-users, whereas in Pakistan, the faulty pricing formula has made LPG the most expensive fuel in the country,” Iftikhar said. Speaking through a video link, All Pakistan LPG Distributors’ Association Senior Vice Chairman Ali Haider said that LPG was the only fuel that could be used for burning and to utilise in vehicles.