ICST calls to cut theft of local gas worth billions

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ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders on Thursday lauded the government for importing LNG to bridge the gap between demand and supply and demanded steps to contain theft of local gas which has reached to an unprecedented level of one billion cubic feet per day. The precious foreign exchange is used to import LNG while the theft of the local gas has almost doubled to the import of gas which is a great loss, it said.

The government should take steps to reduce losses as the same volume of gas can help generate 5500 megawatts of electricity at a rate of Rs5 per unit, said Patron Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders Shahid Rasheed Butt.

Apart from theft, some of the losses can be attributed to the unpaid bills and leakage which can be managed, he added. The gas companies continue to put the entire burden of gas theft on the consumers which amount to punishing the honest consumers and at the same time, it is a great incentive against good practices.

Losses of the gas companies continue to climb since a decade as no serious effort has ever been made to reduce the losses which are now over 14 percent worth tens of billions of rupees per day, he said.

The business leader said that losses of gas utilities in Australia are under 0.5 percent, it is one percent in the UK, while it hovers around 2.16 to 2.65 percent in Canada, Germany, Ukraine and New Zealand. The losses in Turkey are 4.2 percent and the same in Croatia are 3.3 percent while it is in the double digit in the both gas utilities in Pakistan, he informed.

Ogra, the regulator has allowed gas companies to receive 4.5 percent of the losses from the consumers but the companies are extracting more than allowed limit from masses to benefit influential shareholders. The government should try to put gas utilities in order or sell it to the foreign investors, he said.