ISLAMABAD: Targeted power subsidies for disadvantaged socioeconomic classes using around 200 units of electricity were not discouraged or curtailed by the government or the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Caretaker PM Anwaarul Haq Kakar said.

In an interview with Dawn News English Spotlight programme, broadcast on Tuesday, the caretaker PM was asked about the interim government’s relief proposals to the Fund and their subsequent rejection. In response, emphasised the need to support tax-paying economic classes, saying that they had an agreement with the lender to not give any incentives to economic classes which did not contribute to the tax base.

Regarding the privatisation of Discos, in a separate interview on the DawnNewsTV programme Zara Hat Kay, he stated that the government is actively progressing in that direction. He emphasised that while privatisation is essential for the country’s circumstances, it’s a process that requires time.

“The previous governments have done about 40-50pc work already, and ever since we’ve taken over, we’ve moved 10-20pc in that direction,’ he said.

Kakar seeks PIA restructuring plan, orders steps to curb irregular border crossings

When asked about the inclusion of the Pakistan Steel Mills in the privatisation plan, he indicated that while he couldn’t discuss specific companies, it is indeed part of the overall privatisation strategy.

Towards the end of the interview, he was asked whether his government takes responsibility for administrative matters in the country, particularly concerning the arrest and release of political leaders and activists.

“While courts have the right to interpret the rules and laws in the larger picture as per the situation, the state can’t stay away from these matters. However, some decisions are wrong, while some are right when it comes to the current situation, but we own everything that has been happening,” he said.

PIA restructuring

In a series of meetings on Tuesday, PM Kakar also directed the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to provide a detailed plan to restructure Pakistan International Airlines at the earliest.

PM Kakar issued the direction while chairing a high-level meeting on the national flag-carrier here.

Recalling that PIA used to be ranked among the world’s best airlines, Mr Kakar asked the aviation division and the PIA management to work day and night to regain past glory of the airline. Measures should be taken to improve the air connectivity of remote areas with other cities, he said, adding that PIA flight timings should be set keeping in view convenience of passengers.

The premier was earlier informed that the recent amendment to PIA Act 2016 paved the way for restructuring of the national flag carrier. Caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar and adviser to premier Ahad Cheema also attended the detailed briefing on PIA.

Irregular border crossing

Also, the caretaker premier directed the customs authorities to establish monitoring system at irregular border crossings to prevent smuggling.

He issued these directives while presiding over a detailed briefing by the commerce ministry, which also suggested some proposals to improve efficiency for better scanning and inspection of trade goods.

The meeting was convened to discuss measures to discourage smuggling and promote trade through legal channels. The officials took stock of various aspects of Afghanistan transit trade agreement. Several measures to discourage smuggling and promote trade through legal channels in the country also came under discussion.

Aleezeh Fatimah in Karachi also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2023

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