The New Year will see gas tariffs hiked across the board. That the increase will come in the midst of a gas shortage, that has led to a reduction in pressure such that it has become almost impossible to have cooked meals, is an unpleasant irony. The related range of expected price increases is crippling. While ammonium fertilizer production is under pressure, because of pressure from the US, due its supposed use as dynamite material once smuggled to Afghanistan; urea fertilizer faces a massive 207 percent increase in the price of gas, which is the basic raw material for its manufacture. In addition, the power sector will see an increase of 34.57 percent, in the gas supplied to the IPPs. Thus it seems likely that the price of power, already a sensitive subject, will go up, causing an additional surge of inflation. This is apart from the direct price rises that will result from the gas price increase. Also causing inflation separately will be the price increase in CNG, which means that the alternative to Sui gas, cylinder gas, has been hiked as well. CNG, which was actively pushed by the government in recent years for public transport, will factor in a substantial rise. In addition to the hike in tariffs there will be an Infrastructure Development Surcharge, which will merely make matters worse. Both tariff increases and the imposition of the surcharge are coming on the heels of widespread protests by domestic consumers against low pressure. Gas prices have been increasing under a policy decision to link prices with the petrol tariff. The government must be wary that even if the highly increased gas bills do not cause protests, an election is round the corner, and such behaviour will not endear them to their voters.

The government's policy-making is costing it highly, and is resulting in policies which alienate the public. It should not assume that the populace will remain quiescent and just pay up, as it has done so for previous price increases. It can take concrete steps to improve the situation, most notably by going in for the Iranian gasline. It is also essential to explore indigenous resources, which will provide gas locally, at relatively cheaper prices. Not only has gas become unavailable since the overall fuel crisis has struck the world, but it has become more expensive. The government needs to control this better than it has so far, and instead of forcing the consumer to pay, the government should stop using development surcharges with taxpayers’ money and instead should cut down on expenses resulting from its members lavish lifestyles.