PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced a comprehensive package to provide electricity to industries at reduced rates and slashed power tariff for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by 50 percent.
Announcing the package here on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said that small and medium industries will get additional electricity at 50 percent reduced rates from the first of this month till 30th of June next year. For example, if an industrial unit was buying electricity at a rate of Rs16 per unit, he will now get the same at fifty percent discount on consuming additional electricity, he explained.
He said that it has also been decided to provide additional electricity at 25 percent discounted rates to all the industry, including big and small units, for next three years. He said the electricity will be provided to the industry on off-peak hours basis throughout the year.
The Prime Minister said, “It was unfortunate that our industrial products could not compete with other countries due to expensive electricity as a result of costly power agreements signed by the previous governments.” He said this package will reduce cost of production, enhance Pakistan’s exports, and create wealth.
He said due to prudent economic policies of the government, a record sale of cement, motorcycles, and cars have been witnessed, whereas the construction sector is also progressing at a great pace.
The Prime Minister lamented that the service industry was severely impacted during the lockdown period and it is now imperative that the industrial sector should be propped up for better performance.
The Prime Minister said, “From 2013-2018, our exports, instead of rising, took a fall. “So we decided to raise our exports. We did this because a country’s growth hinges upon its exports.”
Taking over the briefing, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said that the Prime Minister has stressed on the fact that industries must be facilitated so that with low input costs, production can be increased, and in turn, more employment generated. “So we have made a huge decision today, a tough decision, and the cabinet has approved it,” he added.
Azhar said that the decision means that industries will be available to avail off-peak hour benefits around the clock.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has rejected the closure of businesses, schools and industries again in view of rising novel coronavirus cases during its second wave in the country.
The Prime Minister made the statement while chairing the federal cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
A briefing was given to the cabinet members regarding an increase being witnessed in COVID-19 cases. The federal cabinet was told that coronavirus cases are consistently increasing, besides a hike in the number of critical patients put on ventilators and mortality rate.
The Prime Minister said that there is a need to strictly implement standard operating procedures (SOPs); however, the federal government will not shut businesses, schools and industries again. He ruled out possibilities to impose lockdown in the country.
He said that the government managed to stabilise the national economy after making efforts. The Premier directed making nationals aware of the precautionary measures.
During the meeting, the cabinet members also held discussions on electoral reforms.
Earlier on Monday, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar had emphasised the need for taking immediate measures to curb rising cases of the coronavirus. He had tweeted that the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) discussed additional measures to control “the rising spread of COVID-19”. He had said the NCOC in a meeting on Tuesday will put forth recommendations in this regard.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed for ramping up healthcare facilities in hospitals, particularly critical care equipment, to cater for any rise in COVID-19 cases.
The Prime Minister issued these directions on Tuesday while chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) to review the situation in the aftermath of the rising COVID-19 cases in the country.
The meeting attended by chief ministers via video links included a briefing to the Prime Minister on the COVID-19 situation and measures taken by the government to deal with it.
The Prime Minister lauded the timely measures adopted by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) amid rising cases of the virus as the meeting also approved the decisions announced by the top forum to deal with the COVID-19 situation in the country.
The meeting gave its nod to the NCOC decisions including mandatory face masks in public places and minimising closure schedule for markets, besides also giving nod to the directives regarding marriage halls, restaurants, and smart lockdown strategy.
Imran Khan urged the public to maintain a balance in their living standard to cope up with the COVID-19 situation, besides also directing the authorities to improve health facilities at the nation-wide hospitals to deal with any emergency situation.
“The NCOC should prepare a future strategy after consulting with all stakeholders and issue a guideline on COVID-19,” he said. He urged the federal and provincial authorities to ensure availability of intensive care unit (ICU) equipment to deal with any emergency situation at the hospitals.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday set a three-month deadline for imposition of electoral reforms in the country.
The deadline was set by the Prime Minister after getting a briefing from the Federal Minister for Anti-Narcotics Azam Swati about election reforms in the meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC), according to a media report.
The Prime Minister also directed to hold Senate elections via open ballot. “We are not afraid of the results, but electoral reforms are need of the country”, the PM was quoted as saying.
The Prime Minister also stated that it is the first time in the country’s history that an incumbent government is striving to hold fair and free elections in the country. He said that he introduced the trend of impartial umpires in the cricket matches as earlier the matches were being fixed, he added.
It may be noted that Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser in the month of September had convened a meeting of parliamentary leaders to seek recommendations from the political leadership over the electoral reforms.
Meanwhile, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz has said that opposition’s narrative against Pakistan and national defence is not acceptable in any case.
Addressing a news conference regarding the steps taken in the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the minister said that PML-N’s recent narrative is aimed at putting aside their corruption cases. He said that negative propaganda of PML-N is not acceptable to any segment of Pakistani society.
The minister slammed Pakistan Democratic Movement for toeing the Indian agenda of spreading anarchy in the country.
Shibli Faraz said the government has planned to announce a reasonable support price for wheat that will help reduce the artificial shortage of flour in the country. He said that the Sindh government’s failure to purchase wheat in time led to flour shortage.
He said that Pakistan People’s Party of the 80s has dissipated and the party at present has no relevance with its forebears. Noting the behaviour of Sindh’s ruling party following the global pandemic outbreak, Shibli Faraz claimed the party tried to spread uncertainty but it only turned out to be a blow-back for it.
The federal minister said the Sindh government forced the citizenry into buying expensive wheat flour whereas if it had released the provincial stocks, things would have been better. He claimed PPP created an artificial crisis and said shortages of sugar and wheat were created by the ruling party of Sindh.
The minister said that according to the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, to facilitate small and medium enterprises, the government has decided that SMEs will get additional electricity at 50 percent reduced rates from the first of this month till 30th of June next year. He said the electricity will be provided to the industry on off-peak hours’ basis throughout the year.
The minister claimed the national economy has revived with exports and growth showing promising upward trends and government planning to facilitate industrialists with concessions in power tariffs.
Power prices were higher owing to agreements signed by earlier governments which factored in greater costs of production. However, he said, things are changing. – TLTP