Govt mulls strategy to handle political fallout of crises
ISLAMABAD: With gas and electricity shortages at their peak, the government has convened back-to-back high-level meetings over the next three days to take stock of the situation and devise a strategy to cope with political unrest arising out of the energy crisis.
A senior government official told Dawn on Sunday that the first of the meetings would be presided over by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday (today).
The Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCOE) led by Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh would make a presentation on the overall energy crisis and the possible options to minimise its adverse impact on economic output.
The CCOE was formed by the prime minister about three months ago to take a holistic view of the chronic circular debt crisis that was not only resulting in current energy shortages but posing a threat to the corporate standing of oil, gas and power companies.
This will be followed by a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet to be held on Tuesday (January 3) to discuss besides other issues, predominantly the overall management of natural gas shortage, criticism coming from the gas consumers and the related political situation.
He said the government had almost made up its mind to stop gas supplies to the entire fertiliser sector and increase CNG holidays to four-five days to meet requirement in the domestic sector.
The sources said the closure of CNG stations and industry had generally brought down the difficulties in the domestic sector over the last one week but it was important to review the latest situation and take fresh steps with input from other economic ministries.
He said the ECC meeting would be followed up by a meeting of the federal cabinet on Wednesday (Jan 4) to review the overall gas and electricity crisis in the country and the measures to control fall out of the emerging political situation.
The official said the ministry of finance had released Rs10 billion after closure of banking hours on Friday against the water and power ministry’s demand of Rs35 billion, leading to increase electricity shortfall when gas shortage had already started to affect almost all the sectors of economy.