LAHORE: Distancing itself away from the current power tariff crisis, the Pakistan People’s Party blames former finance minister Ishaq Dar for imposing tax after tax on electricity bills that led to current unrest among the inflation-hit masses.

The PPP had been part of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led previous government that ruled the country for 16 months.

“The PPP did not increase electricity tariff; rather it had given a subsidy worth Rs300 billion during its term in power (2008-13). All taxes on power bills were imposed by Ishaq Dar and inked agreements (with international lending agencies) at a time when the government’s term in power was about to end,” Punjab PPP acting president Rana Farooq Saeed said at a press conference here on Tuesday.

“Ishaq Dar is expert only in imposing taxes on people.”

He feared that the leader-less protests against inflated electricity bills could be dangerous (for democracy) and the government would have to provide some relief to the masses to appease them in this regard.

Alleging that the PML-N during its tenure (2013-18) had given away a huge sum of Rs480 billion to the independent power producers (IPPs) without even approval of the State Bank of Pakistan, he demanded that all agreements with the IPPs, responsible for higher power tariff, should be made public so that the masses knew that who benefited from these deal.

He said party chairperson Benazir Bhutto had signed agreements with the IPPs at cheaper rates, while the power crisis began during the Musharraf regime.

The PPP leader claimed that the party’s reservations about holding of next general elections were not resolved in the meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) held days before the end of the tenure of the coalition government.

He said the electoral exercise must not go beyond the 90-day constitutional limit and the Election Commission of Pakistan must not violate the Constitution in this respect.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2023

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