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Finance Minister Asad Umar defends increase in gas tariff

ISLAMABAD: Responding to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Mian Shehbaz Sharif’s criticism, Finance Minister Asad Umar on Monday defended the government’s decision to increase the gas prices, ARY News reported.

During his speech in National Assembly, the minister rejected opposition’s criticism over increase in gas tariff by saying that the prices of natural gas have increased drastically in past few months so the government has only shifted the burden on elite class not middle class or poor sections of society.

He added that Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority in its summary had recommended a 46 per-cent increase in gas tariff citing Rs154billion in losses.

“It was when PTI government wasn’t even sworn in, was it our fault, who is responsible for this loss?,” Asad Umar asked opposition leaders.

He maintained that PTI government still didn’t burden the common consumer and shifted it to the upper class.

The minister also defended one of his speeches as a member of opposition in which he criticised the previous government for increasing gas prices despite a fall in the same in international market.

Defending the speech, he said that the said speech is from 2017 and gas prices have seen a steep rise in past months.

“The fall of rupee and increase in energy prices in the international market in last 15 months is more than 50 percent,” said Asad Umar.

Earlier this month, the PTI government had approved up to 143 per cent increase in natural gas tariff with immediate effect having a cumulative financial impact of about Rs116 billion. The decision was taken in an Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet.

Speaking to media after the meeting, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had said that the conusmers have been divided into six slabs so middle and lower middle class will only see a hike of 15 to 20 percent which means if they paid 252 rupees in past as bill, now they will pay Rs275.

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