Recovering loss through tariff annoys SC
ISLAMABAD, Oct 15: The Supreme Court expressed dismay on Monday over the practice of recovering the losses of pilferage and theft through gas tariff adjustments.
Why should consumers pay for the losses when tariffs were increased not to launch development or welfare schemes but to cover up theft and pilferage, regretted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
A three-judge bench comprising the chief justice, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain is hearing a case against the appointment of former chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) Tauqir Sadiq.
Mr Sadiq, a relative of PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badar, is absconding and despite repeated court orders the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) could not trace him.
The court summoned Petroleum Secretary Dr Waqar Masood and incumbent Ogra chairman Saeed Ahmed Khan for Oct 18 and clubbed together another case it had earlier initiated after the submission of a report by the Bhagwandas Commission on oil pricing mechanism.
The report said government’s revenue from the oil sector had crossed the one-trillion-rupee mark between 2001 and 2008 and suggested that a new pricing mechanism should be devised for petroleum products.
On Monday, NAB’s investigating officer Waqas Ahmed Khan informed the court that the bureau had to recover a loss of Rs44 billion suffered by the oil and gas sector because of unaccounted for gas (pilferage), conversion of operation into non-operating expenses and reduced development gas surcharges.
The sector had suffered a loss of Rs83 billion after the appointment of Mr Sadiq as Ogra chief.
Justice Khawaja said he was surprised to know that line losses of gas were reducing gradually after 2002 but after the appointment of Mr Sadiq they had increased manifold. And Ogra increased the tariff for SNGPL and SSGPL to recover the losses from consumers.
The chief justice asked why the cabinet and parliament never attempted to understand this phenomenon. “Why there is a price increase every week at the cost of common consumer instead of practical steps to check and minimise pilferage.”
Justice Khwaja said: “With a limited knowledge on the subject we can understand the issue then why the same is not being grasped by parliamentarians.”