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Govt to take urgent measures to reduce electricity tariff: Imran Khan

23 October, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday directed the Ministry of Power to take urgent measures to reduce the electricity tariff as well as the burden on the consumers caused by power theft and line losses.

Chairing a meeting of Energy Task Force here at the PM Office, the prime minister ordered an immediate crackdown against power thieves as common people can’t be made to bear the brunt of theft and mismanagement by others. He said for the first time, the government was formulating the energy polices keeping in view the country’s needs for another 25 years to fulfil the future domestic and industrial needs besides ensuring energy mix and devising a well-coordinated framework for the energy policy.

During the briefing given to the prime minister, it was told that steps were being taken to reduce dependence on the imported fuel and exploit the local resource to the maximum level. He was apprised that Punjab government had formed a task force under the chief minister to curb power theft and the deputy commissioners concerned would crack down against power thieves in their respective districts. Other provinces had also been directed to follow the suit, it was told.

The meeting was told that large scale use of technology was being made to improve power transmission and distribution that would also help reduce the issues like power theft.

The prime minister directed the Power Division to formulate a comprehensive plan to include the representatives of different companies to resolve the issues in supply of quality power transformers. The meeting decided to give special attention to the exploration of oil and gas.

The prime minister was apprised that Pakistan had world’s ninth largest reserves of shale gas but the previous governments paid no heed to exploit those resources. It was told that not even a single block was awarded during the last five-and-a-half years while the incumbent government would soon finalize the award of 10 blocks in a transparent manner. The process to award another 30 blocks would be started that would also comprise holding of road shows at international level to attract the investment firms.

The meeting also reviewed impediments in the exploration of oil and gas and decided to get the services of Oil and Gas Development Company to conduct the seismic survey to accelerate the exploration.

The prime minister ordered urgent measures to resolve the security related issues confronting the oil and gas exploring firms. The Frontier Constabulary would give protection cover to the firms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it was decided.

The meeting was told that the foreign companies having disbanded their operations in Pakistan could be brought back by addressing the impediments in oil and gas exploration. The prime minister welcomed the return of world-renowned exploration firm Exxon to Pakistan and resolved that the government would extend all out facilities to it in the country.

At a separate meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan gave approval to several incentives aimed at attracting more remittances from overseas Pakistanis.

To facilitate overseas Pakistanis and incentivise home remittances through legal channels, the meeting allowed the State Bank of Pakistan and its authorised dealers (banks) to implement Business to Customer (B2C) and Customer to Business (C2B) transactions through foreign correspondent entities under their existing home remittance agency arrangements. The freelance and information systems services have been allowed to transact up to US $1,500 per individual per month. Transaction services other than computer and information services have also been allowed to transact up to US $1,500 per individual per month. Pensioners can now receive up to Rs250,000 per individual per month.

For C2B transactions, residents can easily receive direct payments from overseas Pakistanis to pay for utility bills, education fees of Higher Education Commission-accredited institutions, superstores, insurance companies, credit card bills, etc.

Remittances received by reputed real estate builders, developers and housing societies from overseas Pakistanis on account of purchase of property such as residential and commercial houses, plots, flats and buildings have also been allowed except remittances for equity/participation in an enterprise.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed serious concern over the terrible situation and deaths of children in Tharparkar and directed relevant authorities to prepare a relief package for the drought-hit area.

Separately, the prime minister strongly condemned the new cycle of killing of innocent Kashmiris in the Indian-held Kashmir and urged India to resolve the lingering dispute according to the wishes of its people.

“It is time for India to realise that it must move to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” the prime minister in a tweet.

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