Monday, July 22, 2024

PM announces Rs50b relief package to benefit 25m domestic power consumers

PM announces Rs50b relief package to benefit 25m domestic power consumers
July 9, 2024 Web Desk

ISLAMABAD (APP) - Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday announced an Rs50 billion package to provide a relief of up to seven rupees per unit to around 25 million domestic power consumers falling in the protected category for three months till September.

“Today, an amount of Rs50 billion has been allocated to provide a relief of Rs 4-7 per unit as a concession to our protected category consumers using up to 200 units a month for a three months period from July to September. This will benefit around 25 million domestic power consumers which constitute around 94% of the total consumer base,” the prime minister said, addressing a ceremony held here to discuss the prevailing issues related to electricity bills and reforms in the power sector.

He said that the federal government had scraped the said amount from its development budget to realize its commitment to public relief, contrary to the hollow claims of the previous governments.

He also assured the people of further relief as the government got a fiscal space consequent to its ongoing measures of taxing the elite class, expanding the tax net, closing the non-performing entities and plugging the holes causing financial leakages.

He told the gathering of federal ministers and senior government officers that during its previous 16-month stint, the coalition government saved the country from default by putting its politics at stake.

Referring to the PTI-led government in the past, the prime minister recalled the tall claims of eliminating corruption within 90 days and repatriating $300 billion from abroad. Instead, he said, the sugar and wheat scams surfaced and the 190 million pounds coming from the UK through the NCA could not land in the national kitty as was supposed to be done. Similarly, the same government announced a sudden decrease in oil prices causing loss to the national kitty, just for political gains, at a time when the prices were skyrocketing in the global market.

The prime minister said that under the leadership of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the incumbent government took responsibility for public service and would collectively face the challenges to put the country on track to progress.

He said the government was going to sign a three-year program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and had also taken it on board about the relief announced for the domestic power consumers.

He said on Monday, the federal and Balochistan provincial governments had reached an agreement to solarise around 28,000 tube-wells in the province to save annual Rs80-90 billion as the consumers were defaulting payment of power bills.

During the last decade, around Rs 500 billion went down the drain this way, therefore the government decided to disconnect their power connection and solarise all the said tube wells costing Rs 55 billion to be borne by the federal and provincial governments with 70/30 proportion respectively.

“The same model will be launched in other provinces as around a million tube-wells are being run on imported oil having a financial implication of US$3.5 billion on foreign exchange,” he said and told the participants that a business model was being prepared in this regard.

Prime Minister Shehbaz said in the annual budget, new taxes have been imposed on the real estate sector to generate around Rs100 billion and that the salaried class was justified to protest the tax burden. The time has come for the elite class to pay back to the country, he remarked.

Mentioning the US$5 billion being spent annually on freight of import and export, he said the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation was running a fleet of only 12 ships against an annual budget of Rs5 billion, contrary to hundreds of ships in the fleet of other countries like Bangladesh.

“In the future, there is only one way of getting relief – save billions and trillions going to corruption,” he remarked. He also highlighted that taxes worth Rs1,200 billion were being evaded on Karachi Port, in addition to another Rs2,700 billion worth of tax claims pending with the courts.

“These are the challenges and parasites which are eating up the country. If we have to make the country prosper, we will have to get rid of loans and begging. The only way is to make efforts and make the elite class pay back to the country,” he added and also called for exploiting the immense potential in agriculture, information technology, mining and mineral sectors.