ISLAMABAD: The first round of the huddle ended yesterday with no major breakthrough. The interim prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar was given a detailed briefing on the increase in electricity bills for July in the high-level meeting.
He sought a concrete plan from the authorities concerned aimed at reducing the exorbitant electricity bills as consumers continue protests across the country.
PM Kakar said that no hasty steps will be taken that might damage the country, adding that they will take measures that will not put an additional burden on the national exchequer and be convenient for the consumers.
“It is not possible that while the people face trouble, high-ranked officials and the prime minister continue to consume free electricity paid with the taxes,” he said.
The premier also directed the relevant ministries and departments to provide complete details of officers and institutions who are receiving free electricity.
“I represent the common man,” said the caretaker premier directing that electricity consumption at the Prime Minister’s House and Pakistan Secretariat should be reduced to a minimum.
A second round of the meeting will take place tomorrow (Monday). During the meeting today, the PM was also briefed on measures to prevent electricity theft.
Interim Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, caretaker Commerce Minister Gohar Ijaz, interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi, adviser to PM Dr Waqar Masood, power secretary, Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) chairman, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) chief and other relevant officials attended the meeting.
In a statement issued on X following the huddle, the prime minister said that the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) and the Ministry of Finance have been tasked with the responsibility of making an action plan to provide relief to the people.
Countrywide protests continue
People across the country are protesting against the inflated electricity bills to assert pressure on the government for relief.
The protesting masses have been demanding that the government should end the provision of free electricity to the notables and provide them relief as the bills they have been receiving are more than their salaries.
Protest demonstrations were held in several parts of Karachi. Masses carrying banners and placards along with their children criticized the government for making their lives miserable.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) have announced protest demonstrations against the inflated electricity bills. It may be noted that Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Sunday chaired an emergency meeting at the Prime Minister’s House and discussed the issue of rising power bills.
MQM-P fears violence amid protests
MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, in a presser earlier today, expressed fears that the protests could turn into riots and civil obedience.
“It is the responsibility of the government to take immediate relief measures,” he said, speaking about the problems of power consumers in Karachi and Hyderabad.
Angry people are burning their accessible electric bills in Peshawar.
“The pressure of circular debt is not on the owners of K-Electric, but on the consumers. Around 12 to 14 hours of loadshedding is being done in Hyderabad and the city’s traders are being forced to protest,” he added.
The politician said bills are the same, despite incessant and long hours of loadshedding.
In July this year, the federal cabinet — headed by then prime minister Shehbaz Sharif — had greenlit a massive increase in the base tariff of electricity by up to Rs7.50 per unit against the national average tariff determination of Rs4.96 by the power regulator National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).
Angry people are protesting and burning their accessive electric bills in Lahore.
The regulator had hiked the tariff to increase revenue collection for the loss-making power distribution companies (Discos) during the current fiscal year. Nepra stated that the revised national average tariff for the 2023-24 fiscal year has been determined at Rs29.78 per unit kWh, which is Rs.4.96 per unit higher than the previously determined national average tariff of Rs24.82.