UFG reduction plan

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THE government has given approval to the state-run gas companies’ Unaccounted for Gas (UFG) reduction plan to increase their revenue by Rs.29.12 billion till financial year 2021/22. The plan reportedly involves controlling theft, meter accuracy, underground and overhead leak survey and repair and implementation of other strategies to bring this UFG issue down.
Currently the UFG level of both Sui Southern and Sui Northern gas companies is around 13% because of commercial and technical losses, which is significantly above the allowed benchmark of 7.5pc. The companies are supposed to bring down the level in a phased manner and complete the task in three years. We have been emphasizing in these columns since long that the real challenges of the energy sector were widespread theft of both electricity and gas and leakages because of worn out distribution system. It is regrettable that instead of investing regularly on maintenance, upgradation and modernization of the system, the companies have been relying heavily on price increase that has its own implications for individual consumers as well as the national economy. It is also unfortunate that theft continues to take place since long and that too with full connivance of the officials concerned but no action is taken against the culprits who inflict heavy losses on their own institutions and the country just for the sake of personal greed. Not to speak of individual thefts, which are also common, there are entire areas and regions that are burning gas without meters. Experience shows the companies might not be in a position to deal with the menace of theft and pilferage until and unless they have full support of the provincial governments, which is not forthcoming at the moment because of political connotations of such a policy. There should be no politics at the cost of national economy and exchequer and thieves should be treated as thieves irrespective of consequences of action against them. Otherwise, there would be no end to the vicious circle of frequent increases in gas prices that are already breaking back of the consumers.