THE gas price is liable to go beyond the ability of the ordinary consumer to afford, and quite soon. Both gas companies have filed petitions with OGRA to increase their rates. The companies, Sui Southern and Sui Northern, have petitioned OGRA for increases in July 2009 and January 2010. They have petitioned for varying increases, with Sui Southern asking for increases of 9 percent and 17 percent, while Sui Northern has asked for 2 percent and 26 percent. OGRA has put the petitions up for a public hearing, at which the general public and particularly civil society organizations, will be heard, and will then forward its recommendations to the federal government. However, if past precedence is any indication, both gas companies, which have clearly targeted the winter of 2009-10 for this increase, would probably get more or less what they have asked for. Therefore, the petitions may be considered a good indication of future increases to come. Along with the increases in other fuel prices, as well as the extremely high prices of staples, if at all available, not to forget the rise in the electricity prices, gas prices have also been a source of discomfort to the ordinary consumer. The discomfort, which is being inflicted on the Pakistani consumer, is because of the conditionalities imposed by the IMF as the price of its latest package for Pakistan, under which it subsidises Pakistan's trade deficit, caused by steeply climbing commodity prices on the international market. The IMF has caused much misery by its interference with electricity prices, and also gas prices. One result has been the loadshedding that has become chronic, and which has also reduced Pakistan's export competitiveness at a time of global downturn. The loadshedding also applies to gas when it is used for power generation. Thus Pakistan's trade deficit is to increase at a time when it is finding it more difficult to earn the foreign exchange needed to pay for it. All this is likely to be cold comfort for the Pakistani consumer in the coming winters, when he will not be able to avail himself of gas heaters because of the expense. True, by no means all Pakistani consumers have Sui gas, but a sufficient number do, to make the price of gas and the decisions taken about it by OGRA, of interest to all those associated with the welfare of Pakistan. The government must abandon its supine attitude, reflected in its allowing companies it owns to file these petitions, and look after ordinary consumers for a change. The companies, which are charging for BTUs without permission, must withdraw these petitions.