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Pakistan gas supply to rise by one-thirds next year

 KARACHI, November 9 (Internews): Gas supply in Pakistan is to increase
 by a hefty 33 per cent from next year when an additional one billion
 cubic feet of natural gas enters the main conductance line, industry
 sources here say.
 Natural gas is available to 15 per cent of Pakistani houses as a
 domestic fuel and gas supply is presently restricted to major cities and
 towns while even poorer areas of main cities are devoid of the facility.
 Officials of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources say that
 with 85 per cent of the population without gas, the government's policy
 is to accord preference to the industrial consumers to save import bill
 of furnace oil.
 "This policy," one official said, "helps the government save between
 $500 million to $600 million a year while the estimates of the adverse
 impacts of the unavailability of the gas to such a large segment are
 never mentioned."
 He conceded that the rates being charged from consumers are unrealistic
 and said the government plans to rationalise them, pointing out that
 during the recent past, the government has increased the gas prices
 manifold besides imposing the General Sales Tax.
 The government's policy to hike the gas rates is based on its aim to
 enhance the profitability of exploring and marketing companies, which it
 believes would indirectly help in taking the facility to a greater
 segment of the society, presently without it. -Internews

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