ISLAMABAD: Government has decided to conduct an independent audit of the gas billing for December 2018 through external auditors in addition to the inquiry regarding excessive billing already conducted by the Petroleum Division. Finance Minister, Asad Umar, chaired meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) to look into the matter of inflated gas billings to the consumers, Press Information Department PID reported. The reports of both the inquiry and the independent audit would be submitted to CCoE. Prior to that Secretary Petroleum Division gave a detailed presentation to the committee on the recent billing exercise of the gas sector. Chairman Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and MD Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) also gave their input in this regard. The meeting was informed that the consumers are billed according to the slabs in which they fall, in accordance with their consumption. Secretary Petroleum Division said that following the complaints of a large number of consumers an inquiry has already been launched to look into the matter. The inquiry would look at the issue comprehensively from all the different angles. Secretaryalso briefed the Committee that there has been an overall increase of 8% in the consumption pattern of the consumers falling in the lowest consumption slab. He also said that out of the total 6400,000 gas consumers only 92,000 that fall in the 6th and 7th (highest consumption slabs), have been affected by high gas bills. It was also pointed out by chairman OGRA that during the month of December the domestic consumption of gas doubles which has changed the pricing slabs for many consumers. However, she also suggested that the data for the last two months may be looked into to find any anomaly. The meeting also discussed the issue of gas theft, action taken against illegal practices and the determination of the unaccounted for Gas (UFG) loss benchmark and directed Ministry of Energy to address the issue. The recent increase in domestic gas bills is attributed to the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) as it maintained gas tariff at the same level for four years, while introduction of higher billing slabs by the incumbent regime and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) application of higher-pressure factor on gas bills also contributed to the increase.