LAHORE: Facing severe public criticism over price hike of several items of daily use, including rotis and naans, the federal government decided on Saturday to restore old gas tariff for tandoors in the country, withdrawing the new tariff it had started implementing from July 1.
The decision was made by the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) in the wake of protests by tandoor owners and workers (naanbais), who were scheduled to observe a countrywide strike on Saturday against the gas tariff hike. However, they called off their strike after the government announced restoration of previous tariff.
A notification to this effect is expected to be issued by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority shortly.
However, the government has avoided giving relaxation in gas tariff to commercial consumers running small roadside eateries, restaurants and set-ups having tandoor where a huge number of workers and middle class people take their meal on a daily basis.
“In Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where gas is supplied by the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, there are 3,000 commercial consumers running tandoors for roti or naan, whose prices have risen to Rs12 from Rs10 and Rs20 from Rs15, respectively, due to over 70 per cent increase in tariff and hike in prices of flour and other related products. The number of such tandoors may range between 2,000 and 2,500 or so in Sindh and Balochistan where gas is supplied by the Sui Southern Gas Company. Many people, poor as well as rich, buy roti and naan from the tandoors,” an official source said. “Though restoring the old tariff for tandoors is a positive step, the government should also reduce tariff for those commercial consumers running small roadside eateries / hotels with tandoors,” he added.
According to the SNGPL, under the decision, gas tariff for tandoor commercial consumers has been reduced from Rs1,283 per mmbtu to Rs738 per mmbtu.
“Following the decision of the federal government, the SNGPL has decided to facilitate tandoor commercial consumers. Those consumers should contact the respective SNGPL offices in Punjab and KP for correction of bills issued under the hiked gas tariff,” reads a press release issued by the SNGPL.
On the other hand, the All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF) has criticised the decision, saying the government was making life of poor people miserable. “This is not an Awami government as it has no pro-poor policies. The decision is merely eyewash as old gas tariff remains applicable to roadside eateries where poor people, who spend most of their daytime outside home, take meals,” said APTUF general secretary Rubina Jamil.
Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2019