ISLAMABAD - The government Monday reduced natural gas prices, bringing an end to 56 days long controversy, and fixed Rs 45.50 maximum per kilogram rate of Compresses Natural Gas (CNG). The government divided the country into two regions and fixed two different prices. For North West Frontier Province, Balochistan and Potohar region, including Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Gujar Khan, the natural gas will be sold at Rs 45.50 per kilogram. The second region comprises of Sindh and Punjab where the CNG will be sold at Rs 44.50 per kg at the outlets. The earlier price was Rs 48.36 per kg. Economic Monitoring Committee (EMC), headed by Finance Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, endorsed an agreement signed by Petroleum Ministry, Finance Ministry and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority on government behalf and CNG dealers' Association. The EMC said the new prices would be effective with immediate effect. The CNG Dealers Association, however, may sell the gas through their outlets on competitive prices below aforementioned rates as per their respective business convenience. The OGRA spokesman and its Member Finance M H Asif told TheNation that under the understanding Rs 45.50 per kg would be a maximum cap and no CNG outlet would cross it. He said that in case of violation, the government would react against such outlets. Asif said the new prices were not determined under the mandate given by EMC on July 15, 2008. The ECC authorised the OGRA to fix and determine the CNG price to the benefit of the end consumers. Although new prices had been announced under a mutual understanding, yet the OGRA would not be the regulator, as it was still awaiting the Law Ministry vetting of amended OGRA Ordinance, he added. The CNG price fiasco started after June 30 press conference of Petroleum Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. He "mistakenly announced" 31 per cent increase in the natural gas prices. Since then the CNG outlets were selling it at three various rates, a very few at Rs 43.86 per kg, some of them at Rs 47.25 per kg and majority was selling it at Rs 48.36 per kg. During this about two-month period, the CNG station owners earned billions of rupees and no government department dared take any action to protect the consumers. The EMC also directed Ministry of Industries to ensure supply of sufficient flour at Utility Stores Corporations during holy month of Ramazan. The next cabinet meeting will give a formal approval of multimillion rupees Ramazan package. The Agriculture Ministry briefed the Committee that 2.5 million tonnes of wheat procurement target had been given to Trading Corporation of Pakistan. The Finance Minister directed the Ministry to expedite import of wheat on deferred payments from Canada and the USA. Ministry of Industries informed the Committee that existing sugar stock was fairly sufficient to cater to domestic demands. The Finance Minister asked Ministry of Industries and Production and MINFAL to recheck the sugar stock figures of Pakistan Sugar Mills Association in consultation with the provinces and ensure availability of sugar in the domestic market. The EMC directed Ministry of Industries to watch sugar prices and its movement on regular basis since government already had imposed a ban on export of sugar to keep adequate stocks available to meet domestic consumption demands.