ISLAMABAD: The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has sought the opinion of the Ministry of Law before shifting the burden of an additional Rs49 billion to gas consumers following an increase in unaccounted-for-gas (UFG) ceiling, say officials.
While approving the policy guidelines for Ogra, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had directed the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources that the extra collection of billions of rupees from the consumers should not disturb investigations into the Ogra scandal and a Lahore High Court order given against 7% UFG ceiling.
Following an increase in 2010 in the UFG ceiling, which covers gas theft and leakage, from 5% to 7% by Ogra, then headed by Tauqeer Sadiq, the state-owned gas transmission and distribution firms had earned an additional Rs49 billion. NAB, however, termed it a scam.
NAB, which had claimed in the Supreme Court that the scam involved Rs82 billion, later reduced its size to Rs26 billion in a reference filed to the National Accountability Court.
According to officials, Ogra has written a letter to the Ministry of Petroleum, asking it to seek the opinion of the Ministry of Law over implementation of the policy guidelines.
Some officials pointed out that the federal government wanted a blanket implementation of the guidelines, but Ogra was reluctant to adopt them without getting the law ministry’s views.
“That’s why the government sent Ogra chairman on forced leave, but blamed him for failure to control the petrol crisis, which was not the mandate of the regulator,” an official remarked. NAB had put former Ogra chairman Tauqeer Sadiq behind bars after the increase in UFG ceiling, accusing him of being involved in a scam. Following Sadiq’s decision, share prices of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) had gone up substantially in the stock market.
However, following the recent approval of policy guidelines, the share prices again rose sharply, but this time, no investigation was conducted.
MCB Bank is a major shareholder in SNGPL having 8.69% (55.12 million) shares, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) owns 8.06% (51.12 million) shares, Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation holds 6.02% (38.16 million) shares and SNGPL Employees Empowerment Trust has 4.32% (27.40 million) shares. The number of major shareholders in
the company is 167.
In SSGC, the SSGC Employees Empowerment Trust owns 7.25% shares, State Life Insurance Corporation holds a 6.56% stake, NBP has 3.35% shares, Viability Gap Fund holds 1.93% shares, Arif Habib Corporation has 1.42% shares and Arif Habib Limited has 1.14% shares.
Two big guns bought SSGC shares when the price ranged between Rs19 and Rs22 and after the approval of guidelines it went up to around Rs40.
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