Despite suffering load shedding for 15 to 20 hours a day, consumers have received their June electricity bills inflated up to 120 per cent of the bill they received in the same month last year, Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Mahmoodur Rashid said on Friday.
He was talking to journalists in his chambers at the Punjab Assembly on Friday. He said the rulers had taken away all joy of Eid from poor consumers, many of whom had no money left to celebrate.
He said the authorities had added 200 additional units to each household leaving the economically disadvantaged segment of the society baffled as to how they would buy clothes or presents for their children on Eid.
Rashid said it was a criminal offense to spend billions of tax payers’ money on useless projects.
Rashid said in June alone, Rs144 billion was collected as Neelum-Jhelum surcharge, electricity duty, TV fee and GST – a similar amount was collected through over-billing. “And yet we face up to 20 hours of load-shedding each day.” He said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz came to power through promises of ending load-shedding, “here we are being robbed on the pretext of imaginary power projects”.
“The truth is that not a single unit of power has been added to the national grid over the last year.” He said Rs500 billion were paid to end the circular debt, Rs57 billion spent on Nandipur Power Project, Rs8 billion on the Guddu Power Plant extension, but all that money had gone down the drain.
He said the government must tell the people why these power plants were shut. He said July had seen the highest ever power shortfall of 10,000 MW. “This should also go into the Guinness Book of World Records.”
He said Justice Khalid Mehmood Khan of the Lahore High Court remarked on July 16 that stock holders were holding the system hostage and had pocketed the Rs5 billion Ramazan subsidy. “Today is the 19th day of fasting and yet one cannot find ghee, wheat flour, sugar or other foodstuff at Utility Stores.”
He said prices of fruits and vegetables had skyrocketed. The rise in prices during Ramazan this year has been more than 40 per cent, he said.
On dynastic politics
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi addressed party workers in Rajanpur on Friday. “The long march will be the biggest political demonstration in the history of the country...it will bring an end to dynastic politics from our country,” he said.
Qureshi said the long march would not only seek to topple the PML-N government but also break up all political parties who wanted the system of dynastic politics to continue.
Mehmood has been holding meetings with party workers in south Punjab districts to organise the long march. He said the response from south Punjab was so overwhelming that he expected at least a million people from the area to join the long march.
He said the PTI had reawakened democracy in the country and would also rebuild the people’s trust in the democratic system.
While Qureshi was holding a meeting in Rajanpur, the PTI focal leader for Rajanpur and ticket-holder for NA-175 Khawaja Amir Shareef Koreja announced his resignation from the party and joined the Pakistan Awami Tehreek. Koreja announced the decision at a press conference in Lahore.
He said he had become disenchanted with the PTI after its lukewarm response to the Model Town killings.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2014.