Amid Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s criticism and Sindh’s opposition, the government on Monday stepped back from a gas price increase until a fresh cross-subsidy mechanism is in place and allowed subsidised import of 100,000 tonnes of urea to ensure price stability in the coming Rabi season.

The two politically sensitive economic issues were discussed in detail at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet presided over by Finance Minister Asad Umar.

Before the meeting, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah called Mr Umar to convey reservations of his government over the gas price increase, informed sources told Dawn. Mr Shah is reported to have told the federal minister that a decision on gas price adjustment was outside the ECC’s jurisdiction and should be considered, if need be, at the level of Council of Common Interests (CCI) as required under the Constitution.

He said it would be unfair that the price of natural gas to be paid by the provinces was set by the Centre or any of its forums having no provincial representation. He also reported that Sindh’s position on the subject was already on the record of the CCI since the tenure of the previous government. The provincial government would be left with no option but to approach the court with a constitutional petition.