World Bulletin / News Desk
Consumer gas prices in Afghanistan have soared to a record high with Afghans fearing the worst in anticipation of increased demand in the winter months.
Afghanistan relies heavily on imported gas for domestic and industrial purposes and despite the government's efforts to stabilize pricing, gas has risen to 120 Afs (US$2) from 50 Afs a few months ago.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry last month announced that with the arrival of the first shipment of 4,000 tons of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Turkmenistan, the consumer price would decline significantly. This, however, has not been the case so far. The ministry spokesman, Musafar Qoqandi, had then said an agreement with Turkmenistan would ensure the supply of 14,000 tons of gas which would stabilize demand.
The Afghan government has also suspended the licenses of two firms on charges of inflating bids for LPG imports from Turkmenistan. Qoqandi accused the two companies, Mahmood Jalil Energy firm and MJ Energy, for raising the per ton price of LPG by $212.
Despite all these measures, the consumer price in the open market continues to mount instead of decreasing.
Azarakhsh Hafizi, chairman of the Gas Importer’s Association, told journalists in Kabul on Monday that traders were ready to help the government in cutting down the price of this basic commodity. In the meantime, he urged the government to take the necessary steps to ensure cost stability for the longer term.
Some importers, however, allege the government has relied too much on imports from Turkmenistan alone. Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry sources said that shipments from Kazakhstan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Iraq were rejected thus causing a shortage.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industries refute any shortage and blame stocking as a reason behind the fake shortage. The issue was also raised in the cabinet meeting Monday when the Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his cabinet called for urgent and necessary steps to bring the prices down.Last Mod: 02 Eylül 2014, 10:01