ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday directed the authorities concerned to find “out of the box solution” to bring down electricity and gas tariffs to provide some relief to domestic consumers and reduce inflation in the country.
The prime minister issued the directive while presiding over a high-level meeting on the issue of prevailing high gas and electricity rates that have made the life of the common man miserable.
The meeting was attended by Minister for Energy Umar Ayub, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Hafeez Sheikh, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and SAPM on Petroleum Nadem Babar.
According to the Prime Minister Office, several proposals were presented during the meeting to reduce gas and electricity tariffs, especially for domestic consumers. Nadeem Babar presented a long-term plan in this regard.
The prime minister was also apprised of the problems confronting gas and electricity producing and supplying companies.
Imran told circular debt will be brought down to zero by end of fiscal year
Prime Minister Khan alleged that the previous governments were responsible for the hike in gas and electricity tariffs as they had made illogical and costly international agreements in the energy sector without realising the purchasing power of the common man. “This resulted in costly electricity and piling up of the circular debt,” he added.
He said provision of relief to the poor and inflation-hit people and promotion of industries were top priorities of his government so that the wheel of the economy could move.
The prime minister was informed that the government was bearing the cost of expensive power plants installed during the previous regimes and the burden of these projects was indirectly affecting the people.
The meeting was told that the government had taken effective measures to control electricity theft and as a result generated Rs122 billion in revenue. Similarly, circular debt has been reduced to Rs12bn per month from Rs36bn. The prime minister was informed that the circular debt would be brought down to zero by the end of the current fiscal year.
The meeting was informed that the present government was not only trying to check the burden of pilferage and line losses through administrative reforms in gas and power sectors, but was also taking measures to ensure the availability of these utilities to domestic and industrial consumers at appropriate rates so that people and industries could get relief.
The prime minister, while talking to a group of reporters at the PM House a few days ago, had expressed dissatisfaction over the hike in electricity and gas rates and assured that these would not be increased in the near future. He was of the view that the high electricity and gas tariff, especially for the industrial sector, was one of the reasons for the rampant inflation in the country.
Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2020