ISLAMABAD: The treasury lawmakers in the National Assembly Thursday came down hard on the government for withdrawing export sector power subsidy under the conditionality of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the loan agreement.
During question hour, the Parliamentary Secretary on Energy (Power Division) Rana Iradat Sharif Khan told the house that the government has withdrawn the subsidy tariff on the power of textile industries.
However, he said that the government would also consider for subsidy on tariff of electricity bill of flood-affected people.
Talks extended for two days: IMF demands govt withdraw power subsidy
He said that the export sector subsidy of Rs19.99 per unit was withdrawn as per the condition of the IMF and it would be charged routine tariff imposed on other sectors. Its tariff would fluctuate as per the power production cost, he added.
He said the Power Division’s responsibility was to indicate the cost of power, whereas, the Finance Division was the one to fix subsidies and tariffs after calculation.
Rana informed the house that the industrial and agricultural power subsidy was called off with effect from March 1.
However, he said the main subsidy was provided to lifeline consumers of below 200 units and was uniformly distributed among all distribution companies.
MNA Sheikh Fayyazuddin raised the question about tariffs charged to the export sector namely, the textile industry. He said that due to the economic crunch, the textile industry was already facing a recession and expensive electricity would further deepen the burden of crisis for the sector.
Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) said that the IMF was bickering on the fundamental decisions made by the government to assist its masses.
“The country could not be left on the IMF conditions but rather that the government must take action to control the exploitation of its masses. It is regretful, we are not able to even take decisions independently about subsidy. What is the procedure to escape from the trap of the IMF,” he added.
Muhammad Abubakr said that K-Electric was not increasing its power generation capacity despite a capacity buildup agreement signed with the federal government.
He said that the industry in Karachi had halted due to power outages leading to unemployment in the metropolis serving as the backbone of the economy.
He proposed that solar power generation systems should be installed in public offices, educational institutes, and others, operating in the daytime to save electricity.
Nafeesa Shah demanded the parliamentary secretary pay attention to the crippled power infrastructure of Sindh’s flood-hit districts that were not repaired so far.
She added that in her constituency district, some 100 power transformers were stolen which left the area without electricity.
Federal Minister for Commerce Naveed Qamar said that the IMF had no objection to budgeted subsidies but rather imposed conditions on the rest. He also noted that the federal government was mulling over introducing wind power projects along with solar energy initiatives to make up for the energy shortfall of the country.
The house was also informed that the government is making all-out efforts to expedite the procedure for the conclusion of pending cases in various courts of the country.
Responding to a question, the State Minister for Law and Justice, Shahadat Awan, informed the house that 51,744 cases were pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
He said that 179,425 cases are pending in the Lahore High Court, 85,781 cases in the Sindh High Court, 41,911 cases in the Peshawar High Court, 17,104 in the Islamabad High Court, and 4,471 cases in Balochistan High Court.
In his remarks, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf expressed concerns over the massive pendency of cases, adding the parliament was ready if any guidance was required.
To a question, the parliamentary secretary on communications, Shahida Akhtar Ali, informed the house that the work on several flood-damaged roads had been completed. She said the authorities concerned regularly visit the sites where work is underway.
The house passed two bills, “the Members of the Parliament Immunities and Privileges Act, 2023” and “the Pakistan Institute of Research and Registration of Quality Assurance Bill, 2022”.
According to “the Members of the Parliament Immunities and Privileges Act, 2023”, “The Chairman, Speaker or Chairman of a Committee shall summon a Member of Parliament in custody on the charge of any offence or under any offence or under any law related to preventive detention to attend a sitting or sittings of the Senate, Assembly or meeting of a Committee of which he is a Member.”
The other bills introduced in the house include, the Control of Narcotics Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the National Refugee Bill, 2023, the Muslim Family Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Bill, 2023. The chair referred the bills to the standing committees concerned.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023