ISLAMABAD – In one way or the other, the suffering of motorists will expectedly come to an end today (Friday) when the Supreme Court (SC) announces its judgment in the CNG price case after having heard all stakeholders over the issue.
A two-member SC bench headed by Justice Jawwad S Khwaja reserved its judgement on Thursday after hearing all parties.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had ordered slashing of CNG prices by Rs 30 and ordered OGRA to ensure there was no change of prices until the matter was decided.
Following the orders, CNG retailers and dealers went on an unofficial strike, severely affecting routine life of motorists. However, once the judgment is announced, likely today (Friday), CNG dealers will have to open stations. The CNG associations, through their counsels, on Thursday requested the court to fix the price of CNG at Rs 73 per kilogramme. However, Justice Khwaja said, “Fixing the prices is OGRA’s job … we will not intervene in the independence of OGRA.”
A letter has been received by the SC wherein it is stated that CNG owners are still reaping profit, he added. The court observed that five years had passed but CNG station owners were yet to fulfil the conditions delineated in the licences, adding that OGRA should have cancelled all such licences.
Abid Hassan Manto, appearing on behalf of Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL), argued that the company only supplied gas to consumers, while the government fixed its prices. Salman Akram Raja contended that in 2003-04, a benchmark was set that by 2011-12 the companies would bring unaccounted for gas (UFG) theft to a level of 4.5. He said the SNGPL and SSGPL had independent boards.
“The successive governments have plundered these companies for extraneous reasons.” Raja asked should the companies be allowed to do politics and the people let burdened by increased gas prices.
Upon this, Justice Khwaja said: “Everybody is working to take money out from peoples’ pockets.”
Raja said 1,100 employees were inducted in gas utilities with a stroke of pen, adding that due to high employees, the UFG had increased to seven percent. He said the real issue was UFG, adding that four fertilizer plants in Punjab had been shut for the last two to four months.
Dr Waqar Masood, the petroleum secretary, informed the bench that a committee had been formed under the chairmanship of the federal law minister during ECC meeting. The secretary said the government had its own concerns and reservations over the CNG prices.
Justice Khwaja said they had stayed the CNG prices, which were under debate across the country, however, the court would not be influenced by the debate.
Talking to reporters later, APCNGA Chairman Ghayas Paracha demanded the government to reopen 700 stations “illegally” closed down across the country.
Paracha demanded gas load-shedding be at least minimised, if not stopped. He said they were not suggesting prices to OGRA, rather informing about expenses.