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Cabinet approves revised circular debt management plan for power

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The federal cabinet has approved the revised circular debt management plan for power through circulation under which the government will increase power prices and end subsidies to pacify IMF.

According to sources, under the plan, the government will increase the electricity price by Rs7.91 per unit in four quarterly adjustments – Feb-March 2023, March-May, June-August and September-November to meet the tough conditions of the IMF.

Sources claimed that the federal cabinet also approved the withdrawal of electricity subsidy of Rs65 billion given to the exporters and farmers, with effect from March 2023. The subsidy of Rs12.13 per unit on electricity given to export sector will be withdrawn, they added.

Moreover, almost Rs250 billion will be recovered from electricity consumers by June 2023. Under the circular debt management plan, the government would impose a surcharge of Rs3.39 per unit.

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The government will charge Rs3.21 per unit from now onwards, 69 paise from March-May and increasing again to Rs1.64 per unit from June onwards to August of 2023. From Sep-Nov, the govt will hike power tariff by Rs1.98 per unit.

Sources claimed that the government would recover Rs65 billion by June after withdrawing the subsidy given to farmers. Meanwhile, Rs51 billion would be recovered by withdrawing subsidy for exporters. The government would also recover Rs14 billion after the withdrawal of subsidy under Kissan package, sources added.

Earlier on Friday, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet has approved a revised plan for managing the power sector’s circular debt, said a press release issued by the Finance Division.

The Ministry of Energy presented a summary of refinancing the debt of Power Holding Limited and a surcharge to recover the markup payments.

The ECC approved the proposal to recover Rs76 billion, exempting non-Time of Use domestic consumers who use less than 300 units and private agriculture consumers for four months from March 2023 to June 2023, to recover the markup charges of PHL loans.

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An additional surcharge of 1 rupee per unit for FY24 will also be imposed to recover the additional markup charges not covered through the existing FC surcharge. The surcharges will be applicable to K-Electric consumers to maintain a uniform tariff across the country.
 

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Farooq Sattar rails against PPP

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Farooq Sattar rails against PPP

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Deputy Convener Farooq Sattar on Thursday launched a broadside at the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Speaking to the media after meeting a delegation of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), Mr Sattar said, “Sindh has been under the control of an undemocratic government for the last 15 years. Despite being given resources and powers, the incumbent Sindh government has not managed to change the fate of the province.”

Speaking about the GDA, Mr Sattar said, “I hope GDA will get the majority. GDA is the second largest party in terms of vote bank”.

He took a dig at the embattled Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), saying, ‘The PTI is confused about whether to do parliamentary politics or not”. 

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BAP to boycott budget session

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BAP to boycott budget session

Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) on Thursday decided to boycott the budget session.

The sources divulged Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo had instructed party senators and legislators in this regard.

BAP also boycotted the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting. Mr Bizenjo made it clear that strict action will be taken against those who violate the party policy.

He added that the NEC meeting was also boycotted because of the “attitude of the centre.”

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“Balochistan is facing serious economic problems. The reasons for the prevailing problems are the lack of cooperation from the federal government,” asserted Mr Bizenjo. 

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Barter trade, other measures to boost Pakistan, Russia ties: ambassador

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Barter trade, other measures to boost Pakistan, Russia ties: ambassador

The Russian ambassador to Pakistan, Danila Ganich, says both countries have reached an agreement on a free payment structure for barter trade, eliminating the need for the US dollars in bilateral transactions. 

Ganich, while speaking to Dunya News, emphasised that no third party would determine their efforts and that Russia and Pakistan would be allies and partners amidst geopolitical changes.

President Vladimir Putin, he announced, was set to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, further accelerating the process of regional cooperation. The  ambassador also expressed hope that Russian oil would provide relief to Pakistan. He said that being a member of the Paris Club, they had rescheduled Pakistan’s loans. 

Pakistan is an independent sovereign state and in this regard, it is to take a political decision concerning the construction of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and Russia’s Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline. 

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The ambassador refrained from commenting on the internal politics of Pakistan, emphasising his commitment to upholding the best relations with the country regardless of which party rules. 

Ganich urged Pakistan and India to resolve the Kashmir conflict at the negotiating table rather than involve any third party. He suggested that Russia could play a role in resolving the core issue if both sides requested it. The ambassador added that there was no immediate solution to the war in Ukraine and that defeating Russia on the battlefield would be unrealistic and dangerous for the world. 

The relationship between Pakistan and Russia, he said, was friendly and grounded in realism, with the former being viewed as a reliable partner and friend by the latter. Both nations had excellent political and diplomatic ties and had been working to improve their public and commercial interests, he said. 

Their mutual influence in the world is significant, with Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan being especially crucial.

He further said that during the 1990s the trade between the two countries was only $100 million which reached one billion dollars recently. There was a five-fold increase in trade between Pakistan and Russia in recent years, he said. 

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The ambassador further noted that the shift from a unipolar world to a multipolar world had led to an increased closeness between Pakistan and Russia. The world at large was witnessing attempts at domination, which in turn was leading people to seek self-reliance or to become real allies.

The geopolitical changes, he pleaded, were expected to accelerate the regional cooperation process and facilitate the formation of new alliances. Based on the shared values that Pakistanis and Russians hold precious, the two nations are expected to become rich allies and partners. The ambassador remarked that various regional integration projects such as China’s One Belt One Road, Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union, and Pakistan’s connectivity project have different names but share the goal of promoting connectivity and infrastructure development in the region.

He said a strong defence relationship exists between Pakistan and Russia. He said cooperation in the military, anti-narcotics and educational sectors was there.

The ambassador added that Russia’s economic strength may be not that strong, but it remains a nuclear superpower. He warned that countries should avoid escalating tensions on the military front. Moreover, it is notable that Pakistan has recommended to Shafqat Ali Khan, a skilled diplomat in Russia, to establish a payment infrastructure free from the dollar to minimise reliance on it. 

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