Islamabad

Expressing serious concern over the federal government move to prioritise domestic gas consumers the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has termed it violation of article 158 of the constitution and warned that it would move to the Supreme Court.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in a letter has asked the federal government that it is the jurisdiction of the provinces to prioritize various sectors and the center have no authority to make any changes to those priorities, an official source told The Nation here yesterday.

The KP is backed by the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan and they will vote against the federal government move, the official claimed. This is not the problem of only one province but it is the problem faced by all the gas producing provinces.

“It is our gas and we are giving 100 mmcfd to Punjab but as far our distribution to various sector is concerned the federal government cannot set priority for us,” the official in KP government said.

Article 158 gives the provinces the right to priorities various sector for the gas provision, the official said. According article 158 the Province in which a well-head of natural gas is situated shall have precedence over other parts of Pakistan in meeting the requirements from that well-head, subject to the commitments and obligations as on the commencing day.

Instead of the current arrangement, prescribed in article 158, under which gas is supplied to all sectors of a province where it is produced, the federal government wants to change the supply rule. The center wants dedication of natural gas produced in all the provinces to residential consumers as a top priority to overcome the gas shortages during winter.

Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has told a press conference last month that the federal government is taking a case to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to ensure that residential consumers are given priority in gas supply. The minister said that Pakistan is a federation and gas should be provided to all its citizens.

The center’s move will change the existing arrangement under which the provinces are authorized to provide fresh gas discoveries to commercial, industrial, and CNG sectors within the province.

But the gas producing provinces are of the view that it is just a pretext to pacify the customer in just one province, the official maintained. According the claim of the federal government Punjab’s domestic consumers faced over 40 per cent gas shortage. At present 67 percent of gas is produced in Sindh, 19 percent in Baluchistan, 9 percent in KPK and 5 percent in Punjab.

Prime Minister acts as a chairman of the Council of Common Interest, while all chief ministers are its member. Besides, three federal members are being nominated by the prime minister.

“Usually the decisions of the CCI are consensus oriented and hopefully they will resolve this issue amicably, the official said. “In case the Center and Punjab tried to impose its majority, in CCI, on the smaller provinces then we will go to the Supreme Court,” the official added.