OUR STAFF REPORTER LAHORE LPG import has once again begun to increase with the onset of winter. Two LPG cargoes each of 1,600 metric tons are expected to berth later this week, whereas 2,000 tons were imported earlier this month, said a statement issued by LPG Association of Pakistan (LPGAP) here on Thursday. The increase in imports was necessary to offset the decline in LPG production and to address the winter demand said Belal Jabbar, CEO of Noor LPG. It was said that LPG production has declined mainly due to the issue of circular debt. Cash strapped refineries have been unable to operate at maximum capacity, necessitating import of refined petroleum products. Furthermore declining production of gas fields has also adversely affected availability of LPG. The Govt must focus on resolving the circular debt issue; since refinery produced LPG is cheaper than imports. The country has the potential to produce an additional 700 tons of LPG at a fraction of the cost of imports. The availability of this additional product would eliminate the need for imports and help in preserving precious foreign exchange said Belal. However, according to the LPGAP, instead of realising this potential, the government was insistent on imposing a petroleum levy on LPG to equate its price with imported product. The statement added that the impact of this levy would ultimately have to be borne by the consumer. LPG prices have remained stable for a considerable period due to demand and supply being in balance. The private sector being fully cognizant of its responsibility is actively importing LPG to ensure that prices do not spiral out of control said Belal.