Caretakers Rule Out Relief In Electricity Bills

pakistani people gathered to burn electricity bills in karachi

After nearly a week of meetings, caretaker Finance Minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar on Wednesday gave senators and electricity users a reality check, advising them to “manage (their) expectations” regarding Anwaarul Haq Kakar’s request for relief from excessive power bills. He claimed that the country’s fiscal position did not allow for any subsidy or relief.

She reportedly replied, “Please manage your expectations,” following discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about the government’s demand for some program relaxations to reduce electricity costs. “These are things that have been there for decades and were accepted before we started as interim. In order to review things, we need to actually dwell on them. How can we alter decades-old legislation, she questioned.

Dr. Akhtar testified before the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue that staff-level negotiations with the IMF had taken place, and she gave the International Monetary Fund the assurance that it was the caretakers’ duty to uphold the terms of the agreements made by the previous administration.

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The country’s worse-than-expected economic condition and the strain on the fiscal account did not allow for subsidies; instead, the most vulnerable were protected by stronger social safety nets, such as BISP, according to the minister, who said she was not “worried about the IMF”.

The Senate committee recommended that measures be made right now to curb electricity theft, put an end to free electricity, and do away with fuel costs that are more than six months old. According to Dr. Shamshad, the right to free electricity is a long-standing policy that cannot be suddenly changed because doing so could lead to legal issues.

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