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Govt orders audit of power plants set up by PML-N govt

The federal government Tuesday decided to conduct an audit of the power plants set up by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government from 2013-18.
“The previous government signed electricity agreement at extremely high costs. Currently, per unit cost of electricity stands at Rs 14.22 while the consumers are being charged Rs 11.71, thus the government has to bear the difference amount of Rs 2.63 per unit,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference here after a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC). “Due to electricity generated at high cost by the expensive power projects commissioned by the previous regime, the current government is facing a loss of Rs 2.63 per unit,” he added. The minister said during the last two years of the PML-N government, the per unit cost of the electricity reached Rs 15.53. Due to the difference between the electricity generation cost and its sale price, around Rs 36 billion are being added to the circular debt every month, he added.
The minister said the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Plant was the most expensive plant in the world, which was producing one unit of electricity at the cost of Rs 17. The other power plants installed during the previous government, including Bhikki, Haveli Bahadur, Baloki and Port Qasim, are also very expensive, he said, adding the government has decided to hold special audit of all the liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelled plants established by the previous government in order to fix responsibility of the wrongdoings.

In its meeting, the ECC approved provision of subsidised gas to five export-oriented sectors that would cost taxpayers Rs 63.5 billion. It allowed supply of imported re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) to five Punjab-based industries at half the existing prices despite having no budgetary allocation. The Rs 63.5-billion subsidy for textiles, carpet, leather, sports and surgical goods industries will be given by issuing a supplementary grant.
However, the ECC did not take decision on increase in power tariff due to the absence of Power Minister Omar Ayub, who is in China on an official visit.
Fawad said it was necessary to brief the people about the facts that as to how the wrong policies of the previous government contributed to accumulation of massive circular debt causing huge losses to the national exchequer. He said in the wake of its dwindling political fortunes during the last one-and-a-half years, the PML-N government did not take corrective steps and passed on the burden of increased electricity generation cost to the consumers. He said the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) persistently kept on demanding increase in the power tariff to avoid heavy losses to the national kitty, but the PML-N government did not pay heed to its requests.
The minister said whenever the government took action against the corrupt and looters of the national wealth, the opposition started raising hue and cry by claiming that democracy was in danger. “PTI brought facts before the people through media. People have now to decide as to how the country is to be run. Whether the people want corrective measures to be taken, or the country should be run like the past when the national institutions were destroyed,” he asked.
“Naya Pakistan will emerge after eight to 10 months when the government will clear the mess left behind by the PML-N government, Fawad said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan will himself take the nation into confidence on the issues facing the country.
The minister said substantive measures were afoot to stabilize the national economy and increase foreign reserves. “Some $20 billion remittances were coming to Pakistan through legal means and it has been planned to increase the same to $30 billion by checking illegal business of hwala and hundi. A legal framework had been prepared to stop money laundering and increase inflow of remittances,” he added. He said there would be a lot of good news for the country with inflow of heavy investments during the next few months. The government would definitely give relief to the people for which it needed a few months to get its policies implemented, he added.
Replying to questions, he said for the first time, the sitting government did not influence the by-elections. “Neither prime minister nor the chief ministers attended any rally in the constituencies +here the bye-polls were held. Similarly, no package was announced for those constituencies, while the local administration did not spearhead the ruling party’s election campaign,” he said.

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