Govt to scrap fixed tax, waive fuel adjustment charges on power bills

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DOHA (Qatar): Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday announced a complete exemption to about 17.1 million electricity consumers out of 30 million in the country from paying their fuel adjustment charges in the electricity bills.
As immediate relief measures to the masses, the prime minister said that government had also notified rescinding of levy of fixed taxes on retailers and shopkeepers.
He announced that out of 3 crore consumers, a total of 17,100,000 consumers would not pay the fuel adjustment charges in their electricity bills, as it was now removed “After this relief announcement,they will not pay a single rupee under FAC,” he added.
He said that about 300,000 users of agriculture tube wells in the country would also enjoy a complete exemption from the fuel adjustment charges.
The prime minister further explained that a mechanism in this regard would be announced soon, adding that they were also reviewing other power users’ costs.
Accompanied by the members of his delegation in Qatar where he arrived on his two-day official visit, the prime minister said that when they came into power, they had two targets to achieve.
The coalition government carried the backlog of previous government which had left behind a trail of worst performance and economic decay and due to their pathetic policies, the country was on the verge of default, he said, adding, but due to the untiring efforts of the coalition government, that danger was over.
The prime minister said the previous government’s poor performance had resulted in the price hike of commodities, but his government continued its efforts day and night to control it.
He said that though they had not achieved much but efforts were being made through collective efforts ‘to send back the jinni of price hike back into the bottle’.
The prime minister regretted that during the discussion on the passage of first fiscal budget, they had discussed the issue of fixed tax on retailers and shopkeepers but practically, the things went wrong which did not reflect reality.
Imposition of such taxes was against the spirit of what they had discussed, he said, adding due to such measures, the small shopkeepers had to face an extra burden of paying taxes.
The prime minister clarified that it was neither the purpose of the government nor they had discussed such mechanism.
A committee had been set up to fix the responsibility in this issue which would submit its report, he said, adding that the process would take some time.
The prime minister said a notification was also issued regarding removal of fixed taxes of Rs3000, 6000 and 10,000 on shopkeepers.
He said such a waiver would result in Rs42 billion revenue collection gap, but the government would meet it from other resources, as it could not want to create problems to the small shopkeepers.
The prime minister assured the retailers and shopkeepers that they did not need to worry about and would not face problems, as the government had controlled the things.
About the second issue the coalition government faced, he said the fuel adjustment charge was interlinked with the fluctuation of prices of oil in the international markets which were being adjusted in the electricity bills.
The prime minster said in the months of July and August, the consumers had to face high fuel adjustment charge.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday invited investors from Qatar to invest in Pakistan’s energy, aviation, agriculture, livestock, maritime, tourism and hospitality sectors.
The prime minister, in a meeting with the highest officials of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) – one of the largest sovereign wealth funds of the world, highlighted Pakistan’s liberal and business-friendly investment policies in this regard.
He also urged the Qatari investors to explore the opportunities presented by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) aimed at promoting regional connectivity and mutual prosperity.
QIA Chief Executive Officer Mansoor Bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud and Chief Investment Officer of Africa and Asia-Pacific Regions Sheikh Faisal Thani Al-Thani represented the Qatar Investment Authority.
The meeting was attended by federal ministers Syed Naveed Qamar, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Ayaz Sadiq, and Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar.
Lauding Qatar’s rapid economic development under the visionary leadership of Qatar’s Emir, the prime minister reiterated that Pakistan attached high importance to its relations with Qatar and wanted to upgrade the traditionally warm political ties between the two countries into a comprehensive economic partnership.
He stressed the need to further enhance bilateral economic and investment engagement, particularly in the renewable energy including solar and wind power generation, aviation, maritime, industrial and infrastructure development, and hospitality sectors.
He underlined Pakistan’s unique geographic and demographic advantages, which combined its strategic location with a huge middle-class market and a large skilled workforce.
PM Shehbaz Sharif assured full facilitation to the QIA through transparent and expeditious processes.
As part of the event, a number of presentations were made by the relevant ministries highlighting the potential of foreign investment in the fields of food security, energy, maritime, aviation, hospitality and tourism sectors.
The prime minister appreciated the QIA’s rejuvenated interest in investing in Pakistan.
It was agreed that designated focal persons on both sides would closely follow-up on the key proposals for investments.
The prime minister invited Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mehmoud and Sheikh Faisal Thani Al-Thani to visit Pakistan at their earliest convenience to build on the momentum generated by the visit.
Terming Pakistan a priority country, the QIA officials expressed their keen interest and readiness to actively pursue investment opportunities in the country.
Earlier, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday arrived here on a two-day official visit to hold “in-depth consultations” with the leadership and interact with the business community to highlight Pakistan’s investment potential.
As the prime minister landed at the Doha airport, he was warmly received by the Qatar’s Minister of Transport Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti.
On the invitation of the Amir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, this is the prime minister’s first visit to Qatar since assuming office in April 2022.
The prime minister is accompanied by the federal cabinet members.
According to Foreign Office, the prime minister will hold “in-depth consultations” with the Qatari leadership.
The two sides will review the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, with a particular focus on advancing energy-related cooperation, deepening trade and investment ties, and exploring greater employment opportunities for Pakistanis in Qatar. – APP