Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz Sharif has announced 100 units monthly of free electricity for an estimated nine million poor families in the province from the ongoing month.
About half the population of the province will be provided electricity free of charge from July under the initiative.
Addressing a press conference, Hamza Shehbaz said, “I was told not to take big decisions without the cabinet to wriggle the backward class out of difficult economic conditions as it could become a NAB case but I said that I am ready to face any difficulty to give relief to the people.”
The CM said while announcing what was termed the largest relief package for the impecunious strata and that free electricity would be provided to all the consumers of the province using up to 100 units in a month.
The Punjab government will pay the bills of more than nine million families using less electricity than the limit set under the plan, he added.
An amount of Rs100 billion has been earmarked for the purpose. About half of the population of the province will be provided free electricity from this month and the Punjab government will pay the bills in August, he explained.
The CM conveyed that the provincial government would pay the full bill of consumers using up to 100 units of electricity per month under the Punjab Chief Minister’s Roshan Gharana Programme.
He said the programme was being launched in view of the financial difficulties being faced by the destitute people due to inflation, declaring that around 55 million members of over nine million families would be provided free electricity from July 1.
Under the Punjab Chief Minister Roshan Gharana Programme, the government will pay the bills and all taxes and duties of the consumers using up to 100 units of electricity, he further said.
The consumers using up to 100 units of electricity in each of the past six months will be able to avail the facility, the CM said and emphasized that the programme would benefit almost half of the population of the province.
Within a year, the Punjab government would also start solar energy projects as an alternative source of energy to produce and provide electricity to the needy people across the province.
The CM said the Punjab government would make full payment of the July bill in August.
The government was fully aware of the plight of the people and the programme was being launched to provide free electricity to destitute families across the province, he asserted.
In view of the difficult economic situation, the government had to increase the prices of electricity and petroleum with a heavy heart but it was fully aware of the difficulties of the common people, he said, adding that every effort was being made to provide relief to the general public while working hard to improve the economy.
The chief minister said he had been working hard to provide relief to the people from the first day after coming to power.
He said subsidy of Rs200 billion had also been given for flour.
“I was advised not to do this without the cabinet because the NAB would question it tomorrow, but I replied that people needed it,” he said.
The chief minister said a 10kg flour bag was cheaper than Rs160 in all of Punjab. Free medicines are being provided in all district and tehsil headquarters hospitals and cancer patients have also started getting free medicines.
The government had got passed the best local bodies act from the provincial assembly in a short period and now it was going to give the third biggest relief to the people of the province, the CM remarked.
“Of course, the electricity is pricey and it is difficult for the common man to pay the electricity bills but to date, such relief has not been given to the common man in the history of Pakistan,” he added.
The government is also planning to provide solar panels to consumers who use up to 100 units of electricity so that they can get rid of electricity bills permanently, he said.
The chief minister said the steps taken for providing subsidised flour, free medicine and electricity were not meant for political gains but their aim was to alleviate the suffering of the people.
The provision of solar panels to consumers under the Ujala Programme would also help save electricity and encourage the private sector, he concluded.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz ordered an inquiry into the alleged rape of a woman at the Faisalabad Institute of Cardiology and sought a report from the inspector general of police.
He said strict legal action should be taken against the accused and provision of justice to the victim should be ensured. Every aspect of the incident should be investigated to glean facts, the chief minister added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2022.
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