Electricity prices increased due to IMF’s toughest conditions: PM Shehbaz

Shehbaz Sharif says consumers using 200 units per month will be exempted n Non-industrial use of land allocated for SEZs will not be tolerated n Pakistan signs framework agreement with Azerbaijan for LNG procurement on flexible terms.

LAHORE/SHEIKHUPURA  -  Prime Minister Sheh­baz Sharif Monday said that at least 63 percent domestic consumers using up to 200 units per month would be exempted from the re­cent increase in power tariff. A partial subsidy was also being given to those consuming up to 300 units per month, who were around 31 percent of the total domestic consumers, he added. "Due to the toughest conditions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the government had to raise the electrici­ty prices but I stressed that the burden should not be passed on to the protected segments of the society," he said af­ter witnessing the sign­ing of a framework agreement between the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) Trading and the Pakistan LNG Lim­ited (PLL). 

The framework agreement was signed by PLL Managing Direc­tor Masood Nabi and Chief Executive Officer of SOCAR Trading Mari­am Almaszade. Minis­ter of State for Petro­leum Musadik Malik, Punjab Governor Ba­leegh Ur Rehman, dip­lomats and government officials were also pres­ent on the occasion. 

Under the frame­work agreement, the SOCAR Trading has of­fered supply one car­go per month of lique­fied natural gas (LNG) to Pakistan on flexi­ble terms and with the credit line for 30 days after delivery of the cargo in one year con­tract which is extend­able by another year.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said it was really a great day as “we are stand­ing here as brothers from two brotherly countries - Pakistan and Azerbaijan”. He expressed good wishes for President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev whom he met in Baku few weeks ago and thanked him for finalizing the agreement. 

“We had extremely productive and very fruitful discussion over there as to how to promote economic relations between the two friendly countries,” he said, add­ing immediately on his return to home, the Government of Pakistan accorded ap­proval to the Azerbaijan Airline to land at Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. 

“This is a big step forward to promote tourism and investment, and exchange of delegations between the two countries.” The prime minister also appreciated and thanked Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Dr Musadik Malik, secretary petroleum, Pa­kistan’s ambassador in Azerbaijan, SOCAR Trading CEO, and PLL MD for their efforts to conclude the framework agreement. 

The ambassador of Azerbaijan in Islam­abad, on the occasion, said the framework agreement would help further strengthen bilateral economic relations. 

He said the cooperation between the two countries remained sustainable since the start of diplomatic ties. 

He said approval of giving airspace to the Azerbaijan Airline would increase the number of visitors and business delega­tions between the two counties. A team of horticulture experts from Azerbaijan was arriving in Pakistan to share their first hand experience in the sector with the Pa­kistani authorities, he added.


Also, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said that the utilisation of mod­ern technology and alternative energy by the industrial sector were inevitable to make exports competitive in the interna­tional market.

The prime minister, addressing the soft launching of Ombre Special Econom­ic Zone, Sundar Green Special Economic Zone and Smart Special Economic Zone, said owing to surging oil prices, the only option was to exploit the potential of solar, wind and hydel energy for the cost-effec­tiveness of local products.

He said the issue of circular debt was required to be addressed on a war-foot­ing basis, which was swelling due to wasting billions of rupees annually be­cause of line and transmission losses as well as power theft.

The prime minister appreciated the pri­vate sector for chalking out a plan to estab­lish the three special economic zones and assured all-out support from the federal and Punjab governments.

He said the commitment by the private sector to attract investment worth billions of rupees was also laudable, besides their plans to set up a three-megawatt solar pow­er plant and other allied facilities like the vocational training center.

He hoped that the interim government would also take all possible measures to keep the national economy on track of progress, as the incumbent one was al­ready making necessary legislation to pave the way for future course of action.

The prime minister told the gather­ing that an agreement between Pakistan and Azerbaijan for the import of LNG was signed earlier in the day under which the latter would provide an LNG shipment per month with the former having the option to purchase it or not, in accordance with the needs and without any penalty.

Similarly, he said, the private sector should also sign the deals with Qatar to import LNG for industrial use – not for sale in the market – and assured that the Federal Government would facilitate them at the Karachi Port. Prime Minister Shehbaz also called for spreading the net­work of SEZs across the country. He said during Nawaz Sharif’s last government, the SEZs were planned across the country under the China-Pakistan Economic Cor­ridor, but, despite complete mapping and other formalities, all the projects faced unnecessary delay, except Rashakai.

He said the agreement with Interna­tional Monetary Fund was signed to ebb away the risk of default and put the coun­try on the course toward progress. The prime minister said as far as the SEZs by the public sector were concerned, the government would provide land free of charge to the investors, as it had done for the Bahawalpur Solar Park.

However, he said the use of SEZs’ land for non-industrial use would not be toler­ated and recalled similar “misconduct” by some parties in Faisalabad and other SEZs where people had been minting money by selling out the land.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt