Pakistan PM Sharif announces relief package of Rs 50 billion for domestic electricity consumers

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Islamabad, Jul 9 (PTI) Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday announced a relief package of Rs 50 billion for millions of domestic electricity consumers as his cash-strapped government was battling to push back the rising criticism against the hike in power tariffs.

Addressing a ceremony on energy sector reforms in Islamabad, he said that the relief would be available to consumers using up to 200 electricity units per month.

“Today, an amount of Rs 50 billion has been allocated to provide a relief of Rs 4-7 per unit as a concession to our protected category consumers using up to 200 units a month for three months from July to September,” he said.

The prime minister said the package would provide relief to around 25 million domestic consumers falling in the protected category.

“This will benefit around 25 million domestic power consumers which constitute around 94 per cent of the total consumer base,” he said.

He said the decision has been taken to provide relief to the common man in the wake of increasing prices of electricity, adding these three summer months are the hardest to cope with as the weather improves from October and electricity consumption decreases.

The Pakistan government has been caught between the devil and the deep blue sea as it is being pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to increase power tariffs to obtain a fresh bailout package but every increase intensifies public anger.

Fearing that the pent-up aggression might lead to street protests, the government stepped back from increasing about 51 per cent electricity tariff for so-called protected consumers it approved last week.

PM Sharif also said that the government was going to sign a three-year programme with the IMF and that it took the fund on board about the relief announced for the domestic power consumers.

Talking about taxes, he said new taxes were imposed on the real estate sector in the budget to collect around Rs 100 billion.

The prime minister also acknowledged that the salaried class was justified in protesting the tax increase. He said the time has come for the elite to pay taxes. “The time has come for the elite class to pay back to the country,” he said. PTI SH GSP AKJ GSP

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