• Vows zero tolerance for overbilling, promises monthly review of power theft situation
• Invites Chinese textile firms to set up industry in Pakistan, assures them of all-out facilitation

ISLAMABAD: A day after the centre pledged to the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtun­khwa (KP) Ali Amin Gandapur to reduce power loadshedding across the province, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif dir­e­cted the authorities concerned to ensure better load management and provide relief to those braving scorching summer without electricity for hours.

However, PM Shehbaz made it clear that the government would deal sternly with power thieves, and the ongoing operation against them would be taken to its logical conclusion.

Presiding over a meeting on load management and power theft, the premier vowed to conduct a monthly review of the power theft situation and asked the provincial governments, law enforcement agencies, and other departments to extend their support in the anti-power theft drive, in the national interest and for the country’s progress.

The prime minister told the meeting participants that the government would not tolerate over-billing in any way. He also ordered the relevant authorities to accelerate the privatisation of power distribution companies by engaging experts and formulating a strategy to solarise tube wells in Balochistan.

During the briefing on load management and power theft, it was explained that under a joint strategy formulated following a conversation between KP CM Gand­apur and federal Minister for Power Sardar Awais Leghari, it had been agreed to reduce power loadshedding along with line losses and ensure recovery of dues from defaulters in the province.

The meeting was informed that areas with high power theft and line losses and low recovery ratios were being subjected to loadshedding, and that the upgrade of the South-North Power Transmission Line would help improve the system.

Also, the participants were told that task forces were being formed at the provincial and divisional levels to eliminate power theft, which would undergo a weekly performance review.

The meeting was attended by federal ministers Ahad Khan Cheema, Mohammad Aurangzeb, Dr Musaddik Malik and Sardar Awais Leghari, Minister of State Ali Pervaiz Malik, Coordinator to PM Rana Ehsan Afzal, Wapda chairman and other senior officers. The provincial chief secretaries and inspector generals of police joined the meeting via video link.

Pak-China cooperation

In a separate meeting held to discuss the promotion of Pakistan-China cooperation, PM Shehbaz invited Chinese companies, particularly related to the textile sector, to establish their industry in Pakistan, assuring them of all-out facilitation by his government.

He said, “China is a key partner in Pakistan’s development. Pakistan desires to enhance cooperation with China in agriculture, information technology, and energy besides enhancing its exports to China,”

In the meeting, different ministries presented their proposals to promote the Pakistan-China economic relationship, according to a PM Office press release.

The premier said the government would provide foolproof security to Chinese nationals working in Pakistan, as a comprehensive security plan had already been formulated. He told the meeting participants that the government was preparing for the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and expressed hope that, with China’s cooperation, Gwadar Port would become a logistics hub.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2024

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