Another massive gas price increase

In all the tumult and confusion of this past week, an important piece of news didn’t receive as much attention as it should have. The prices of gas are going to be increased three-fold, by more than two hundred percent. If you paid a thousand rupees last month, this month your gas bill for the same consumption will be three thousand rupees. But first, there is no gas in my locality (Defence Phase 8) in Karachi, and it has never experienced gas shortage in the past. We would hear about gas disappearing in neighbouring areas now and then, but we had so far been immune. Now it seems we’ll have to live with it as we do with high inflation and taxes.

It appears that the rampant inflation is something the man talking about Medina is not aware of. Even an illiterate man on the street knows what happens when energy prices are increased. But for the Great Khan and his minions, it’s business as usual. I’m already paying fifty percent more per unit of gas compared to the same time last year. So I should look forward to pay much more from next month onwards.

But it’s strange that in November 2019, even though the two gas companies asked for thirty-one percent increase in prices, why did OGRA recommend that gas prices should be increased by two hundred and fourteen percent? Something is definitely wrong here, and needs to be investigated. Of course, even a thirty-one percent increase would have hit the common man hard, but making him pay three times the amount he’s been paying until now will simply make him think seriously about killing himself and his family members. Mind you, this is not the first time gas prices have been increased by Mr. Clean’s government. In September 2018, gas prices were raised by a hundred and forty-three percent. Yet we have gas shortages throughout the country.

Meanwhile, gas theft continues unabated, about two billion dollars of gas is stolen in the country every year. In Pakistan, gas theft is 14-15 percent compared to an average of 2.6 percent in other countries. Some gas thieves are in Karak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; it is the town where seven hundred thousand residents steal more than a hundred billion rupees worth of gas every year. But of course the Dear Leader cannot even think of stopping gas theft in the province where his party is in power. If he does so, he will lose the already scant support he has in the country.

So we should expect massive inflation in the next few months. Transporters will charge more from their passengers, the cost of bringing eatables from rural areas to the cities will undergo a phenomenal increase, we’ll have to pay more for tandoori rotis, and prices of edibles will shoot up. Vegetable prices are already up to three times more than last year.

You may remember that it was the same Mr Clean who used to shout for hours on the container -before he was ‘selected’ to be the prime minister –whenever prices were increased by the previous government. He may have forgotten but the public remembers. Even though he says that great leaders should indulge in U-turns (wrong, only leaders like Trump do), the people are not amused. It won’t be long before we reach a tipping point. The time will come when the masses no longer tolerate any more suffering, and we shall see riots and killings. Let’s hope the Great Khan realises this in time and takes concrete steps to avoid such a situation.

The writer is an engineer, a former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College