Home Latest News Shaukat Tarin Admits Government Should Have Bought Gas Earlier

Shaukat Tarin Admits Government Should Have Bought Gas Earlier

by Newsweek Pakistan

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Adviser to the P.M. on Finance says no one had any idea of surge in gas and petroleum prices, adding it should decline in a month or two

The government should have purchased gas cargoes earlier in the year rather than waiting till now and having to deal with a looming shortage, Adviser to the P.M. on Finance Shaukat Tarin acknowledged on Tuesday.

“We should have bought the gas cargoes on time as the purchasing time for it was over,” he told Samaa News during an interview with journalist Nadeem Malik. Stressing that no one had any inkling that international prices would increase to their current rates, he said this could have been mitigated if cargoes had been purchased earlier when the tariffs were lower.

Tarin said Pakistan’s gas and petroleum imports had reached $20 billion per year from $12-13 billion earlier, adding that this had increased the burden on the exchequer. However, he claimed, experts believed the prices of gas and petroleum would decrease in December or January after the global devastation caused by the COVID-19 started to decline.

On the looming gas shortage—several areas of the country have already started reporting gas loadshedding, troubling both domestic and industrial consumers—the finance adviser said Pakistani companies were supplying gas to consumers, but there were insufficient funds to extract resources found in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Lakki Marwat district. He regretted that foreign companies were no longer exploring gas deposits in Pakistan.

Local media has been sounding the alarm about a looming gas shortage for several months, with government spokespersons accusing journalists of spreading “fake news” by scaring consumers. Last week, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar went so far as to “challenge” journalist Shahzeb Khanzada to a “neutral” debate on the country’s gas issues. Khanzada had, a week earlier, asked Azhar during a TV appearance to justify the impending gas shortage. Azhar had refused to respond, claiming only he would “return to the show” if a shortage occurred.

In a rejoinder, the Finance Division said Tarin’s comments were being taken out of context. “Government has been buying the gas as required, despite higher international prices. However, he [Tarin] has mentioned there was one tender scrapped in July, but this has nothing to do with winter gas,” it said. “The adviser finance has not mentioned at any point that winter gas shortfalls are due to non-procurement of LNG on time,” it added.

The finance adviser had, it added, cited the ongoing global LNG shortages for the shortfall, “which was not in control of anybody.”

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