Decision on power bill relief by Monday: minister

Ali says detailed consideration given to ease burden on public

Irshad Ansari September 08, 2023
Caretaker ministers addressing a press conference in Islamabad on September 8, 2023. PHOTO: PID


Caretaker Energy Minister Muhammad Ali has announced that the interim government will most likely take a decision on provision of relief in the electricity bills by Monday, saying detailed consideration has been given to ease the burden on the public.

The development came at a joint news conference after the first session of two-day meeting of Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC). The energy minister, Caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, Commerce Minister Dr Gohar Ejaz and Information Minister Murtaza Solangi addressed the media persons.

The energy minister said, “We are taking steps to find oil and gas as we are losing Rs300 billion annually in the gas sector. The availability of gas is essential to run the industry.”

Ali said discussions for privatisation of power distribution companies was under way.

“Work is also being done to reduce line losses and bring investment under the SIFC.”

Addressing the presser, Shamshad said the caretaker government had adopted a holistic approach to address the pressing issues being faced by the economy and develop a roadmap with an aim to augment the macroeconomic management.

“We will operate really holistically and consistently as a team. This will be an important change that incharges of all segments will work together,” she said.

A principle had been adopted to look at the government as a whole, she added.

Shamshad said subcommittees of the cabinet, including the Economic Coordination Committee, Executive Committee of National Economic Council, Cabinet Committee on Privatisation, and Cabinet Committee on Energy, had already been institutionalised.

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“We will try to enhance the social safety net and more importantly financial inclusion will be expedited so that SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and agriculture sectors, and citizens get an opportunity for financial empowerment through digitisation.”

The minister said the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) were facing issues and had burdened the exchequer, so the government would prepare SOEs privatisation policy to overcome the problems.

On this occasion, the commerce minister said that things became expensive due to the closure of industries and due to the problems in the supply chain, inflation also increased.

“Promotion of exports is needed to bring improvement in the economy,” he said, adding that privatisation of the industry was necessary for the wheel of the economy to keep spinning.

Ejaz said that in 2022, Pakistan's record imports were $78 billion while exports $32 billion. “The increase in exports will reduce inflation,” he said. “The country is suffering from smuggling. Measures are being taken to control it.”

The information minister said the caretaker government respected the international financial agreements and would continue to implement them in true letter and spirit.

On SIFC, Solangi said deliberations were held on the measures which were essential for reducing the government’s expenditures and circular debt.

Solangi said discussions were also held on working out a schedule for implementing the decisions already taken to carry out privatisation of some departments.

He said measures to stop misuse of international agreements, if there was any, also came under discussion.

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Restructuring of the Federal Board of Revenue, measures for removing bottlenecks in foreign direct investment, including visa policy reforms, and steps to improve performance of different departments were also part of extensive discussion held on the first day of the SIFC meeting.

The minister said traditionally, a statement was issued to highlight the decisions and discussions of the SIFC, but from now onwards, the public would be informed by the caretaker government through briefings by the relevant ministers.

The main objectives of SIFC were to boost FDI in different sectors, including mining, information technology and agriculture, the minister added.