September 29, 2023 4:05 PM

Pakistan Govt Calls Emergency Meeting Amid Outrage Over Inflated Power Bills

Last Updated: August 27, 2023, 15:28 IST

Pakistan's caretaker PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar was appointed earlier this month. (PTI Photo)

Pakistan’s caretaker PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar was appointed earlier this month. (PTI Photo)

Pakistan’s Caretaker PM calls emergency meeting amid nationwide protests over high electricity rates. Strategies to relieve consumer burden

Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has summoned an emergency meeting in the capital Islamabad on Sunday to address the growing public outcry over the spike in electricity rates and consumer bills. This move comes amid nationwide protests that erupted in various cities across the country, triggered by significant increases in the national average tariff, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The protests held a day earlier, highlighted the frustration of citizens who are grappling with skyrocketing electricity bills. Prompted by the surge in tariffs, Kakar has taken the step of convening the emergency meeting to seek immediate solutions that can offer much-needed relief to consumers.

The Pakistani newspaper said that the central focus of the meeting will be to engage with representatives from the power division and power distribution companies (Discos) to deliberate on strategies that can mitigate the financial burden on the public. The interim government has outlined a plan to withdraw subsidized electricity benefits provided to Discos and government officials in grade 17 and above, in a bid to rectify the existing fiscal imbalance.

Murtaza Solangi, the caretaker Information Minister held discussions with Power Division Secretary Rashid Mahmood Langrial. Solangi confirmed that the provision of free electricity units to Discos officers would be halted, and a proposal to revoke the free electricity benefit for officials in grade 17 and above would be presented during the upcoming cabinet meeting.

According to Dawn, the prevailing concern revolves around the increase in electricity tariffs, which has significantly impacted consumers utilizing over 400 units per month. However, it is worth noting that 63.5 percent of domestic consumers have been spared from tariff hikes.

The protests extended to various cities, with residents and traders taking to the streets to express their grievances. They held banners and set tires ablaze, symbolizing their frustration at the high electricity bills.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-P) echoed public sentiments and urged the government to promptly address the concerns of the people. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, addressing a press conference in Karachi, stressed the urgency of resolving the issue to prevent the situation from spiraling into a law and order crisis.

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