Plan against gas theft

IT is satisfying that Prime Minister Imran Khan is concentrating almost on a daily basis on issues that have direct bearing on financial and economic health of the country and day-to-day problems being faced by masses. After chairing meetings on how to address the challenges facing the power sector, he chaired a briefing on oil and gas sector in which the menace of gas theft was highlighted.
The Prime Minister decision to constitute a Committee to look into the problem of gas theft with instructions to submit its initial recommendations within days is reflective of his seriousness about a problem that entails Rs 50b loss to the national exchequer annually. If the government succeeds in plugging this theft and leakages, there is every reason to believe that many of the woes of energy sector would be resolved. Gas theft is nothing new as there are areas in the country where there are no meters at all and there are commercial and industrial ventures that are involved in the theft in collusion with the staff of relevant department. Such areas and entities are clearly identified but in the past action against them could not be taken in the absence of sincere cooperation from the provincial governments, which have necessary enforcement machinery. Now PTI has its own governments at the Centre, Punjab and KP and one can, therefore, rightly expect that these would move in tandem to address the challenge.
There are vested interests involved and progress depends on continued personal interest of the Prime Minister on this issue of national importance. If the government is really serious then it should, as a first step, suspend gas supplies to all un-metered premises. Apart from theft, the Prime Minister and the new Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan may also focus on rampant corruption in gas companies where there is no concept of installation of meters without palm greasing. Issues hindering oil and gas exploration may also be addressed on a war-footing as success in this field could help strengthen economic and political sovereignty.

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