An auditing firm tasked with probing issues pertaining to inflated electricity bills asked the cabinet on Thursday for one more week to finalise its findings.
The cabinet resumed its special meeting on Thursday. Ministers Ishaq Dar and Khwaja Asif told the meeting that the audit firm needed an additional week to conclude its report and fix the responsibility of inflated electricity bills.
In the previous meeting, the cabinet discussed the audit firm’s preliminary report. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif constituted a cabinet committee led by Dar to probe the matter and check whether a Rs22 billion relief package for consumers was sufficient.
According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s House, Asif told the cabinet that power distribution companies were taking steps to correct overbilling and provide consumers with elief. He said consumers were being issued bills after a deduction of 3,000 units.
Visit to China
Sharif said he will sign projects worth $45 billion during his forthcoming visit to China. These projects include the Pak-China Economic Corridor, he said. Of the $45 billion, $34 billion will be spent on energy and power sectors and $11 billion on infrastructure.
He said this during the second phase of the cabinet ministers performance review presentations. Sharif claimed that the projects would be completed in three and half years.
The prime minister directed Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal to prioritise reforms at the next cabinet meeting. He said reforms should bolster efforts in achieving the target of exponential growth in exports of up to $150 billion by 2025 as suggested by the Planning Commission.
The prime minister also directed the Ministry of Commerce to work with the Foreign Office to export rice to Iran and to provide local farmers relief by stabilising the price of rice.
Iqbal told the cabinet that the Central Development Working Party was analysing several projects to ensure optimum utilisation of national resources. He said that the Planning Commission had prepared a development model, Vision 2025. “We are expecting to register GDP growth of 6 per cent by 2018,” he said.
The minister said the Pak-China Economic Corridor was a feather in the Planning Commission’s cap. He said they were trying to increase their outreach and had set up an advisory committee comprising representatives of the private sector, civil society and academia.
Iqbal said a National Water Policy, a National Research Policy and a National Innovation Policy were in the pipeline. A National Flood Management Plan will be established by January 2015, he promised. An integrated energy model is also under consideration, he added.
Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique claimed that his ministry had successfully eliminated political influence from Pakistan Railways and had brought about structural reform.
A spokesperson of the Prime Minister’s House on Thursday said that Sharif had not announced a six-month deadline for the eradication of polio.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2014.