Federal Minister for Power Division Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan said on Monday that the coalition government managed to inject 5000 megawatts (MW) of additional electricity into the system within one year.
Addressing a press conference here at Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) headquarters, he explained that 1980MW had been added to the national grid from Thar coal power plant, three power plants of accumulative generation of 1100MW had been inaugurated in Karachi, and other 720MW projects, which were neglected by previous government, had now started generation, while testing of 1200MW Punjab thermal would start soon. “In one year of Shehbaz Sharif government, we have worked a lot in the energy sector. We have brought back electricity in the country, which faced scarcity from 2018 to 2022 due to negligence of the former government,” he added.
Khurram Dastgir said that previous government, in its four years period, created economic turmoil and made no progress on energy projects under the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor). However, the current coalition government, he added, started various projects under CPEC especially in power sector at full speed and in the new fiscal year, Rs 900 billion relief in the electricity bills would continue to be given to targeted/ deserving consumers, while load-shedding duration would also be less than in the past years.
The federal minister said the government would also give a tariff differential subsidy of Rs 150 billion to keep the price of electricity equal in the whole country, besides allocating Rs 58 billion relief package for agriculture tube-wells in Balochistan, and there would be a relief of Rs 315 billion for those living in Karachi.
“I want to thank prime minister and finance minister for giving relief to the power consumers in the federal budget 2023-34,” he said, asserting that the relief would have two parts: Rs 579 billion for power consumers across country, and the payment would be made to the IPPs, while merged FATA districts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa would get Rs 25 billion relief during the next fiscal year.
To a question, the minister said that Pakistan’s gas deposits were depleting every year, but it could last for 15 to 20 years if used in appropriate manner. The best use of the gas was taking place through world’s most efficient gas plants and they were trying to provide inexpensive electricity through gas resource.
To another question, he said that he discussed in detail with LESCO authorities the matters pertaining to bills recovery, maintenance and improvement in the LESCO region’s system. There was no shortage of equipment including power meters in the LESCO and other distribution companies (Discos), while shortages of field staff such as meter readers and linemen was also being addressed to ensure early resolution of power complaints and correct meter reading.
He said that Discos were facing electricity theft issues in some far-flung areas where there was governance deficit; however, the government was formulating a new law which would give enforcement powers to Discos to stop power theft.
Responding to another query, he said that May 9 incident was a seditious conspiracy and it was not a public protest but a coup plot, and the mastermind would not be able to escape. In this regard, he added, the law would apply to Qasim’s father as well.
He said that Nawaz Sharif would soon come to Pakistan and lead the election campaign of the party.