Electricity Crisis – Pakistanis battle against soaring bills

Electricity Crisis – Pakistanis battle against soaring bills
Image Courtesy: Dawn TV

Since 2005, Pakistan has been grappling with an intensifying electricity crisis, leaving Pakistani citizens burdened with inflated power bills. The interim Prime Minister of Pakistan, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, has stepped into action after nationwide protests against electricity bills, directing relevant departments to devise concrete plan to address this issue once and for all. Electricity Crisis – Pakistanis battle against soaring bills

Electricity Crisis Unveiled

In an emergency meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in Islamabad today on August 27, 2023, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar answered to countrywide protests triggered by the inflated power bills. The outcry by the public was shown on media wherein multiple cities went on strike and people stated that no electricity bill will be paid. This scenario was a result of a massive increase in the national average tariff in the recent months, which has prompted Mr. Kakar to summon this meeting.

Call for Prudent Action to sort Electricity Crises

Prime Minister Kakar made it clear that hasty decisions that could harm the nation’s interest would be avoided. In its place, measures would be taken to ease the burden on the national exchequer and facilitate consumers. Moreover, Kakar also emphasized that it’s unacceptable for him and for high-ranking officials, including the Prime Minister, to enjoy free electricity at the expense of taxpayers, which was widely criticized during the protests.

Quest for Transparency

In order to sort out the issue comprehensively, Prime Minister Kakar has directed the relevant departments and ministries to prepare a report and reveal details of officers who are and have benefited from free electricity in Pakistan. This transparency move aims to ensure accountability and fairness.

Energy Conservation

In the meeting, PM Kakar has also pledged himself to lead by example and minimize the electricity consumption in the Prime Minister House and Pakistan Secretariat, while he is in office. He went to say that “if he had to switch off his own Air conditioner, he would do it”. Today session ended with another session planned for tomorrow, where the Prime Minister would take up the matter with the interim Chief Ministers of the Provinces. He further stated that he would direct the provincial assemblies and provincial chief minister to conserve energy.

Curbing Electricity Theft – Primary Action

During the meeting, it is also acknowledged that electricity theft is a severe issue and should be addressed immediately. In order to curb the widespread issue of electricity theft, the PM called upon electricity distribution companies to present a roadmap for tackling this problem. The government is taking a multi-faceted approach to reform the power sector.

Plan for Relief to public against Electricity Crises

PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has committed that the interim government would take every possible step within its power and mandate to ensure relief is granted to the people of Pakistan while going through electricity crises. Assurance coming from PM Kakar comes as a ray of hope for countless Pakistanis struggling with to pay the inflated power bills.

Withdrawal of Subsidies

While succumbing to the pressure of protests by people of Pakistan in various cities, the government has planned to withdraw all subsidies given to the government officers in grade 17 and above as well as subsidized electricity for discos. This move aims to bring fairness to electricity distribution in Pakistan.

Protests across the Nation

The public’s frustration demonstrated in protests across Pakistan is unreal. In Multan, Lahore, and Karachi, citizens have expressed their anger over inflated power bills through demonstrations and roadblocks, while many cities have also denied paying the electricity bills, calling it a Civil Disobedience Movement.

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Calls for Reform

Various political parties and trade unions have called for immediate action. The Markazi Tanzeem-e-Tajran Pakistan initiated a “protest movement” against high power prices, while the Pakistan Markazi Muslim League announced a “countrywide protest” demanding a rollback of electricity price hikes.

The Nationwide Strike

As soon as the nationwide strike is announced, many political leaders can be seen jumping in the boat to gather some people sympathy. In this race, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief, Sirajul Haq, also announced a nationwide strike on September 2 to protest against the increase in electricity prices. The JI, PMLN’s Khawaja Muhammad Asif and other political groups are urging the government to provide immediate relief to the people.

IMF Negotiations

PML-N’s Khawaja Asif, through his social media account on X (formerly known as Twitter) has proposed negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure some relief for the public of Pakistan. Various political stalwarts are advocating for changes in the lifeline consumer units and the end of free electricity for government and other institutions.

Expert Insights

As soon the strike broke and news made to the TV channels, various channels took experts on line and asked them various solutions to the inflated power bills.
Experts have suggested that immediate relief in taxes and levies on electricity bills are not feasible due to fiscal pressures.
Experts also stated that base tariff and exchange rate volatility has contributed to inflated power bills. Experts have suggested that privatization of electricity utility companies is the long-term solution to electricity crises.

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