The sitting government is coming in for severe criticism for a serious shortage of gas across the country. While this crisis has been persisting for the past several years, it has been far worse for the last three years — a period during which the PTI has been at the helm of affairs. Even despite suspension of gas to all non-export industries as well as to the CNG sector and all Captive Power Plants (also called auto-producers) of non-export industrial units, there has been a major demand-supply gap in the country during the ongoing winter season.
Domestic and commercial consumers — especially in upper Sindh, Balochistan and upcountry — are suffering a great deal. Unable to cook food at home, families are buying cooked meals from food vendors, which has thrown their household budgets out of gear. Mankind cannot survive without food for long, so many families — despite their limited means — have to spend extra bucks on food. There are reports of people leaving home empty-stomach for offices and education institutes. Even the well-heeled are finding it difficult to switch over to costly alternatives to piped gas, like LPG and electricity. Firewood and charcoal too are being sold at exorbitant prices in major cities of the country.
The government is being blamed for mishandling the issue of gas availability — not preparing for the colder months when there is high demand for the commodity. The government is being accused of purchasing RLNG at a price higher than that offered by Qatar. It is also being criticised for failing to stock up on RLNG when its price was low in April-May this year. The government has its own reasons to justify what its opponents call “mismanagement” and “incompetence”, but these reasons don’t serve to satisfy the people who have had to make do with the biting cold without the gas in their stoves and heaters.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2021.