Country can’t run on subsidies but . . .

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RESPONDING to the outcry over the soaring prices of petroleum products, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said the if oil and gas prices go up in the world, Pakistan will have to readjust prices as per the new rates, stressing that the whole country could not be run on subsidies.

One may partially agree with the assertion of the Information Minister but it is also a fact that the subsidies are given around the world to protect the vulnerable segments of the society as well as uplift productive sectors including the industries and the agriculture.

Sometimes, it becomes imperative to grant subsidies in order to keep the export sector competitive in the international market.

Already Pakistan is faced with the issue of increasing trade imbalance which can only be addressed by bolstering our exports.

For this, the Government will have to provide incentives both to the agriculture and industrial sector.

As regards petroleum products, these are imported, hence the Government has to adjust the prices as per the trends in the international market.

But we would not have been faced with this situation, if a real effort was made to explore the indigenous natural resources.

There are several studies which suggest that Balochistan province is rich in oil and several other natural resources.

Similarly, we wasted our natural gas in such a manner that today we are faced with serious gas crisis.

The country still has a potential to produce 200,000 oil barrels per day and 1.2 billion cubic feet per day gas by launching exploration and production activities where seepages of oil and gas are found in the KP, Balochistan and Punjab.

This is a low hanging fruit but unfortunately the petroleum exploration and production policy is silent on handling of hydro-carbon seepages.

In China’s Xingjian province, about two million barrels per day oil is being produced through seepage. Similarly, huge oil and gas reserves are produced in Virginia State of USA through seepage.

Oil and gas is present in such a huge quantity in our country that they are coming to the surface of earth but no attention has yet been given to it.

We, therefore, will ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to personally look into the matter and issue necessary directions for early exploration of oil and gas from the seepage areas.

Other potential areas should also be explored in order to achieve self-reliance in oil and gas production.

By doing so, we cannot only protect our consumers from changing trends in international market but also can save valuable foreign exchange.

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