LAHORE, Oct 5: PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto has defended the agreements her government had made with the independent power producers (IPPs) for the installation of thermal plants in the country and purchase of electricity from them at 6.5 cents per unit.

Replying to a question at her telephonic press conference held at the Lahore Press Club here on Saturday, she said that before the IPPs had come, there was an acute shortage of electricity in Pakistan which had been experiencing heavy loadshedding of power for 11 to 18 hours in a day. She said that since the country was in dire need of the power, her government had contracted agreements with the IPPs called from different parts of the world for installation of thermal plants in the country.

She said that the rate of 6.5 per cent per kilowatt hour (unit) fixed for purchase of power from them was reasonable as other countries in the region had been purchasing power at higher rates. China and India had made similar agreements at seven per cent per unit. She said that there was no scandal in the grant of the contracts nor in fixing of rates of purchasing power from them. She said that the deteriorating economic situation had made the IPPs controversial as the rupee value continued to decline sharply with US dollar rate jumping from Rs20 to Rs60. She said that the prices of imported furnace oil required as fuel for the thermal plants had been continuously increasing and the power rates had been increased for 11 times since she had been ousted. She said that there had been no increase in power rates during the tenure of her government.

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