- Web Desk
PM Kakar: ‘Out-of-the-box’ measures to ease public’s bill worries
- Web Desk
- Sep 05, 2023
ISLAMABAD: Interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, who recently convened an ’emergency moot’ to address public anger over rising electricity bills, has pledged to explore “out-of-the-box solutions” to ease the burden on power consumers grappling with inflation.
According to Dawn.com, despite initial commitments, the government faced challenges in securing subsidies for electricity consumers from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), leading to a reversal of promises for relief. The caretaker government, amid week-long protests and shutter-down strikes, stood firm on its stance, citing existing agreements with the IMF.
The media reports revealed that discussions between the power and finance divisions and IMF representatives were ongoing, primarily focusing on evaluating the potential impact of relief measures on circular debt, cash flow, and independent power producers (IPPs).
Although there has been no official statement regarding the talks, insiders suggested that the government estimated the impact at approximately PKR6.5 billion, whereas the IMF insisted it should be closer to PKR15 billion.
The reports said that the Pakistani government, in its proposal, informed the IMF that relief provisions would have a minimal impact, less than PKR6.5 billion. However, the IMF disagreed, estimating the impact to be around PKR15 billion and rejecting the plan, calling for a new fiscal adjustment roadmap to cover the losses.
Meanwhile, in a meeting with foreign press representatives on Monday, the interim PM stated that they were still exploring “realistic” options to provide relief to consumers while upholding the country’s commitments to international financial institutions.
Addressing concerns about circular debt, power theft, and taxes, the interim prime minister announced plans for “short-term solutions” to tackle these issues. He also ordered immediate action against defaulters and power thieves, requesting daily reports from relevant authorities.
During the meeting, the prime minister was briefed on the country’s total installed capacity, actual generation, and overall energy supply across seasons. He emphasised the need to prioritise renewable and hydel energy sources for generating cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy.
Furthermore, PM Kakar highlighted the interim government’s focus on restructuring fiscal and monetary policies for economic revival, mentioning the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) as a key strategy. He also outlined plans for privatising two or more power distribution companies, along with necessary reforms in taxation and the power sector.
Regarding security concerns, the prime minister acknowledged the threat of terror attacks by the TTP and highlighted the military equipment left behind by U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. He emphasised the government’s commitment to defending the nation and working closely with the Pakistan Army for economic recovery.
PM Kakar expressed strong support for projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Balochistan, especially the Reko Diq project, which is set to commence soon. He anticipated foreign investments of $25 billion each from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East within the next two to five years.
Regarding upcoming general elections, the interim government vowed to facilitate the process in line with constitutional obligations, including constituency delimitation following the population census. However, he did not mention the constitutional requirement for general polls within 90 days following the dissolution of an assembly.