Senate committee on cabinet discusses OGRA functions, tariff hikes

October 2, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet was held on Tuesday at Parliament House.

Chaired by Senator Talha Mahmood; the meeting was attended by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Senator Rubina Khalid, Senator Naseebullah Khan Bazai, Senator Muhammad Azam Khan Musakhel and senior officers from Cabinet Division and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA).

The meeting commenced with a briefing by Chairperson OGRA, Uzma Adil Khan.  She informed the Committee that as per Section 6 of the Ordinance the Authority has the exclusive power to grant licenses for regulated activities in the Natural Gas (LNG), Compressed Gas (CNG), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Oil Sectors.

Discussing the procedure for fixing tariff rates for domestic and industrial consumers and the imposition of 143 percent tax on gas tariffs Chairman OGRA informed the Committee that OGRA determines the revenue requirement of Gas utilities under OGRA Ordinance 2002. The petitioner has to file the petition for determination of revenue requirement by 1st December each year. The same is evaluated and admitted by the Authority.

After admission of petition, the same is scrutinized by the concerned department and a public notice is issued for comments of general public in due course of time.  She further added that comments are received by the Authority within 21 days of issuance of Public Notice.

Senator Javed Abbasi while asserting that subsidy be given by the government to the common man enquired if ever, during previous regimes was such a high slab attained.

Chairperson OGRA, Uzma Adil Khan informed the Committee that such a high slab was reached as a result of not increasing gas tariffs previously.

Chairman Committee, Senator Talha Mahmood recommended that as winters approach this increase in tariff must be withdrawn and the Government of Pakistan must give subsidy to the people who elected them.

While deliberating on recruitment of Members of OGRA, Senator Muhammad Azam Khan Musakhel questioned the process of recruitment and showed concern as to the reason that members of OGRA have not been appointed from Balochistan.

Chairperson OGRA revealed that OGRA is not responsible for appointments and all recruitments are initiated from the Cabinet Division.

While responding to questions regarding high remuneration packages being offered to OGRA officers, she stated that In accordance with the section 14 of OGRA Ordinance 2002, the Authority is empowered to recruit employees as it may deem fit.

Chairperson OGRA, Uzma Adil Khan said that high remuneration packages were being used as incentive to take on board the best professionals from the job market.

Talking about facilitating the people of Balochistan, Senator Musakhel revealed that many areas of Balochistan are void of gas connections; he enquired of the measures taken by OGRA to facilitate the people of Balochistan. Chairman OGRA, Uzman Adil Khan revealed that directing gas companies to supply gas in areas where there are no operations is beyond the mandate of OGRA.

She asserted that only the Government of Pakistan can give any such directions.  She added that facilitation centres have been established to facilitate the consumers, adding that OGRA deals with complaints against licenses in accordance with the Complaint Resolution Procedure Regulations, 2003.

It entertains consumer complaints without any fee and with almost no formalities. The consumers are not necessarily required to come to OGRA for filing complaints. They can do the same through email/online fax and normal post.

Examining issues of oil and gas adulteration Senator Muhammad Azam Khan Musakhel inquired if OGRA was taking any measures to check this problem.

Deliberating over installation of gas connections, Chairman Committee enquired about the procedure. Chairperson OGRA clarified that the if and application has been in the pipeline for the past six months the applicant, if he wishes, can pay urgent fees of PKR 25000 and have the process expedited. She further stated that this would entail roughly about two months more in addition to the earlier six months.

Chairman Committee, Senator Talha Mahmood directed OGRA that details of all such cases were to be submitted to the Committee.  He showed displeasure on the extended process and raised questions regarding this long wait saying that the consumer was being penalized for no reason. NNI