Govt can't fix gas prices: ACCI
Last week, the Ministry of Commerce fixed at 55 afghanis ($1.34) the price of one kilogram of gas, but the rate hovers between 80 and 100afs in the capital city. The price was fixed in consultation with representatives of traders.
Following reports of gas hoarding by traders, the government sent a delegation to the Hairatan port in the northern Balkh province to resolve the problem as soon as possible, the minister of commerce told parliamentarians.
Speaking in the Wolesi Jirga, lower house of Parliament, Commerce Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi, who was summoned to explain the matter, said traders had hoarded 3,000 tonnes of gas at the port and they were not willing to bring it to Kabul.
"Under a Cabinet decision, we are authorised to sell the gas of hoarders," he said, adding the commodity stored would be brought to Kabul over next few days to lower the price. The minister promised the price would be reduced to 55 afghanis per kilogram.
Speaking to the media people, the ACCI deputy head, Khan Jan Alokozai, however, said that the government had no right to interfere in the prices. Fixing the prices for gas traders was against the articles 10th, 11th and 13th of the constitution, he said.
Article 10 of the Constitution states the state encourages and protects private investments and enterprises based on the free market economy and guarantees their protection in accordance with the provisions of law.
Similarly, Article 11 says affairs related to domestic and external trade shall be regulated by law in accordance with the needs of the national economy and public interests.
Rejecting Ahadi's view, ACCI deputy head Khan Jan Alokozay said gas imports from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan had slowed down, causing a price hike. He added with the arrival of gas shipments from Uzbekistan the rate of one tonne had come down from $1,250 to $1,100.
Since traders in Kabul received one kilogram of liquefied gas at a cost of 63afs, they could not sell for 55afs. "If government continues interfering with rate fixation, traders will stop importing gas and," he warned.
But the commerce ministry spokesman, Wahidullah Ghazikhel, denied interference by the Afghan government. In order to decrease the gas prices in Kabul, the government directed traders to sell the commodity for 60afs a kilogram.
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