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Gas shortages in industries

The gas crisis is worsening in Karachi. The Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) has suspended gas supply to industrial zones amid the shortage in supply. CNG stations will also remain closed for a week across Sindh as supply could be suspended for an indefinite period.

The SSGC claims it was receiving 200-250 MMCFD less gas than usual and had to cut supply to industrial zones and power plants in Karachi. The company is only providing gas to export-oriented industries and domestic consumers. There are also reports that two major gas fields in Sindh have been shut down which has exacerbated the problem and now the SSGC is facing 40% shortage in gas supply.

The government is also facing disruption in the import of LNG. The budget 2021-22 raised concern over a price hike in CNG due to a proposed general sales tax on LNG. The imposition of new and additional taxes could increase the price from Rs6 to Rs9 per kilogramme. Domestic consumers have also complained of receiving low gas pressure despite assurances that they are being prioritised.

Businesses have suffered tremendously due to the coronavirus pandemic for more than a year and are now being affected due to gas shortages. If the crisis persists then it will affect the government’s goals of reviving the economy and increasing exports. A nation cannot achieve economic growth if it cannot ensure the provision of basic utilities to its industries.

Businessmen in Karachi have urged the prime minister to direct the SSGC to ensure gas supply to the industries as it is affecting production and export orders. For the past week, the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE) has been suffering from low gas pressure and load shedding. The industrialists were told that gas will be suspended for two days but the SSGC failed to restore supply and the problem persists.

The government has set an ambitious growth and export target this year but this cannot be achieved due to the power and gas crisis. The gas shortage has suspended production which places exports in jeopardy and large orders can be cancelled. The government should take serious steps to resolve the crisis or else the economy will suffer and we cannot achieve our economic targets.