ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Thursday stated that the matter of skyrocketing electricity bills is being discussed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), adding that the government would fulfil its obligations to the global lender “at all costs”.
Speaking to senior journalists and anchorpersons in Islamabad, he said the consumers will have to pay the electricity bills.
The statement came days after the IMF refused to immediately approve Pakistan’s request for recovering August’s electricity bills over a period of six months amid raging protests in many parts of the country that continued against back-breaking bills.
So far, the caretaker government has failed to come up with any solution. It is trying to avoid breaching the conditions of the IMF programme that require keeping the overall circular debt at Rs2.310 trillion and timely passing on the increase in electricity prices on account of annual, quarterly and monthly adjustments.
The caretaker prime minister in today’s media interaction said the government has given proposals to the IMF, adding that inflation was not that a big issue to go on a strike.
“We will not make false promises nor would we deviate from our responsibilities. We will let everyone know the measures we cannot take and why,” he added.
PM Kakar said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will give the final date for holding the elections and the interim setup would conclude following the elections.
The interim prime minister acknowledged being informed recently about protests concerning inflated electricity bills.
He said that the interim setup does not have any “hidden agenda, plans or ambitions”. “It is not like some oppressive rulers have come to power and were draining the resources of the impoverished,” he added.
The premier also talked about the challenges the country faced in the 1990s when electricity shortages emerged, adding that the governments at that time engaged with independent power producers (IPPs) to augment power generation.
“However, we failed to anticipate the consequences of these agreements, including pay surcharge,” he remarked. He also highlighted issues within the transmission systems and the billing retrieval process.
In her first public appearance after assuming the responsibility of the interim finance minister, Dr Shamshad candidly told the Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Wednesday that the government’s coffers were empty and, therefore, no one should pin any hope for subsidies.
She warned of further increase in power and fuel prices in relation to higher prices in the global markets and lack of availability of any fiscal space for subsidies, said there was no choice but to stick to the IMF programme.