ISLAMABAD - The government, under a Memorandum of Understanding with CNG Associations, is going to raise rates of Compressed Natural Gas as soon as it prescribes new prices for gas distribution companies. The new increase will be equal to what the government is going to give to gas distribution companies - Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited and Sui Southern Gas Corporation Limited. These companies have filed petitions with the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority for an average 30 per cent increase in gas sale price.    The government singed a Memorandum of Understanding with the CNG Associations in August last, bringing a halt to CNG fiasco started on July 1st. The Petroleum Ministry sources told TheNation that the MoU was inked after reaching an understanding with the CNG industry that the government would not authorize the OGRA to regulate the sector. The CNG station owners who earned billions of rupees by fleecing the consumers were against the OGRA regulation. In return they ensured the government to sell the gas on the agreed prices.   The government document states, "On July 1, 2008, CNG station owners increased the price by Rs 13 per kg as against actual cost of gas increase of Rs 5.8 per kg, thus raising the CNG consumer price from prevailing Rs 38 per kg to Rs 51 per kg". However, it did not take any punitive action against the responsible owners.   Under the MoU, the CNG prices for the end consumers are fixed at Rs 44.50 and 45.50 by dividing the country into regions for a period of six months. These prices are subject to revision before December 31 2008. Secondly, the CNG rates will be changed whenever there is an increase in the prices of electricity and gas. The MoU was against the decision of the Cabinet, which asked the OGRA to regulate the CNG prices for the end consumers at the outlets. The OGRA sources said the regulatory body had forwarded the draft of amendments in the OGRA Ordinance to regulate the consumer price, but the Prime Minister Secretariat was withholding the summary due to "unknown reasons". The OGRA spokesman, M.H. Asif said the OGRA would not be in a position to regulate the outlets, until it got enabling powers, which were conditioned to promulgation of the OGRA amended Ordinance. However, he said the regulatory body might intervene if the owners sell the gas over the agreed rates. The MoU was duly singed by the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources and the OGRA on behalf of the government and All Pakistan CNG Association, CNG Dealers Association and CNG Station Owners Association on behalf of the industry. The legal experts term the agreement by the government with private entities against the rules of the business. Former Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Dr Sher Afgan blasted the government for "violating the rules of business 1973". The government neither can sign an agreement nor a Memorandum of Understanding with any private company or association, he added. He said, "By overrunning the rules of business the government is bulldozing the constitution".   According to the MoU, the CNG prices will be determined keeping in view the gas sale price as charged by SNGPL and SSGCL, the operating expenses up to 50 per cent of the prices being charged by the SNGPL and SSGCL and the government will ensure up to 20 per cent rate of return to the owners after including all costs. A total of 2373 CNG outlets are operating across the country, out of which 70 are in Islamabad, 402 in the NWFP, 1491 in the Punjab, 8 in Balochistan and 402 in Sindh.