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Hammad Azhar seeks to allay fears over SBP autonomy

New law to allow mixing LNG with domestically produced gas

SAMAA | - Posted: Jan 15, 2022 | Last Updated: 1 week ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Jan 15, 2022 | Last Updated: 1 week ago

Federal Energy Minister Hammad Azhar has sought to allay fears over granting more autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). The assets of the SBP will continue to be owned by the Pakistan government, which will also appoint its directors, the minister told a press conference on Saturday.

The federal energy minister said that besides passing the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2021, the National Assembly has also passed a few other key pieces of legislation, including a bill on the price mechanism for imported liquid natural gas (LNG).

Until now, the government did not have any law that would allow it to mix the imported LNG with domestically produced natural gas and set the prices, the minister said adding that it was the most important bill passed by the National Assembly on Thursday.

In absence of this price mechanism, one LNG cargo would incur a loss of Rs10 billion to the government if mixed with locally produced natural gas, he said.

The minister denied the reports that he had an altercation with Defence Minister Pervez Khattak over the gas shortage in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. “Khattak is my senior and one of the most respectable ones for me,” Azhar said.

He said that Khattak did not complain about the gas shortage but raised the ban against new gas connections.

Hammad Azhar said the opposition was only engaging in political point-scoring on the issue of SBP autonomy. The PMLN government also tried to grant autonomy to the SBP, he said.

Under the amended law, the minister said, the SBP would be free from political pressure and the government’s reliance on the forex reserves would be minimal.

The federal minister claimed that financial reforms would continue for the next five years.

Azhar also said that Pakistan has implemented 26 action items on the FATF list.

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Hammad Azhar press conference, SBP autonomy, LNG gas prices,
 

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