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Power tariff also goes up after POL price hike


ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has ratified the government’s decision to increase the price of electricity, paving way for an increase in the basic price of electricity. This followed late Thursday night the OGRA decision to hike fuel prices.

The NEPRA has decided to increase the price of electricity by Rs1.68 paisa for domestic consumers and Rs1.39 paisa for commercial and industrial consumers. According to officials, the increase will not apply to consumers up to 200 units per month, while the increase in electricity prices will be applicable from November 1, 2021. The increase is applicable for the entire country, including K-Electric consumers, while the increase in the price of electricity will fetch the government Rs135 billion annually.

The government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on late Thursday night jacked up the price of petrol by Rs8.03 per litre with an immediate effect. According to a notification issued in this regard, the new price of petrol will be Rs145.82 per litre against the current rate of Rs137.79 per litre. The price of high-speed diesel (HSD) had also been enhanced by Rs8.14 per litre and will now cost Rs142.62 per litre.

It is pertinent to mention here that Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday had rejected a summary of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) proposing an increase of Rs11.53 in prices of petroleum products. It may be mentioned here that just three weeks ago, the government jacked up the price of petrol by Rs10.49 per litre, following fluctuation in the global oil prices.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties registered a strong protest against the price hike and increase in the prices of petroleum products in the National Assembly on Friday. The opposition parliamentarians while carrying placards raised loud slogans, demanding withdrawal of raise in prices of petroleum products and asking the prime minister to quit.

PML-N Parliamentary Leader in National Assembly Khwaja Asif demanded that the government present inquiry reports on sugar and wheat scams and details of an agreement reached with the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). Speaking on a point of order, the PML-N veteran parliamentarian said they are not in the House to just deliver speeches and put thumb impressions. “We were elected to protect the rights of people,” he said, adding that the members sitting on treasury benches are also worried about the plight of people due to price hike, but they are unable to speak because of their affiliation to the government.

The PMLN leader said they are searching for the leader who used to say that a prime minister is thief when there is price hike in the country, petrol is expensive and taxes are increased. “This prime minister gives a relief package and then drops a petrol bomb,” he said. Asif said the National Assembly should take notice of unprecedented price hike which has become intolerable for poor people. “This is our responsibility to take notice of price hike, otherwise people will grab us by our necks,” he said.

Commenting on the TLP issue, he said the government whose leaders used to attend sit-ins are now signing secret agreements. He said the National Assembly is a supreme institution but it has been paralyzed by the government. He said frauds have been committed in the name of flour and sugar. “Where have the inquiry reports gone? The prime minister had said that inquiries will be completed in one month,” he said, adding that the accountability is meant only for those who are sitting on opposition benches and those on the other side are innocent. Khwaja Asif demanded that the chair allow a debate in the House on inflation and price hike in the country. “We are worried about the plight of people as the government has no sympathies for them,” he said. PML-N member Rana Tanveer Hussain pointed out lack of quorum as soon as the chair gave the floor to PTI member Akram Cheema. Earlier, the House adopted a motion to allow use of the National Assembly chamber for a briefing to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security which is scheduled to be held on November 8 (Monday).

At the same time, the opposition stormed out of the Senate Friday against price-hike of essential commodities and termed prime minister’s relief package fraud, though the treasury blamed the past governments for inflation and indulging in corruption to build Surrey Palace and Avenfield apartments.

The House echoed with slogans of ‘sugar thieves’, ‘flour thieves’ and the opposition senators took the PM to task for making the life of common man miserable due to the rising inflation. The opposition senators protested before the dais of Senate chairman for some time and then left the House, chanting loud slogans against the government.

On the opening day of the new session, the Leader of Opposition Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, after the question hour, requested Senate Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani to first allow them to speak on the latest increase in rates of petroleum products and price hike of other commodities and then take up the agenda items.

Senator Gilani said the prime minister was ill-advised to speak on the issue of price hike and increase in petroleum products’ rates and impending gas crisis, saying instead Minister of Finance should have explained these things in a news conference, as after his address to the nation, oil prices were revised upwards within 48 hours.

Lauding suspension of the agenda, Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmad delivered a hard-hitting short speech in the House and referred to significant latest increase in oil prices, and said the biggest relief package for the masses would be resignation of premier and reviving prices of key kitchen items and gas and petrol prices to the year 2018.

He said that there had been massive increases in commodities prices and noted 10-kg flour bag had been made costlier by Rs200 in three years and sugar per kg by Rs100.

“Public is at the mercy of sugar, flour, petrol mafias and the government is least concerned about their plight, rather it is desperately fulfilling demands of the IMF, as the economy has been handed over to them. The PM relief package is a joke with the people and like rubbing salt into their wounds,” he added. He alleged the country was under the tsunami of inflation while PM’s package was Rs5 per person per day.

He warned the government of the French revolution and asked it to learn a lesson from it and said that the rulers should be mindful of the time when the hungry and jobless youth would have “gherao” [siege] of the power corridors. He also feared, as the inflation was rising and poverty increasing, crime would increase and the society would be facing anarchy.

“Those, enjoying protocols, helicopters and other privileges will face wrath of people one day. This injustice can no longer be tolerated. The opposition must take stock of the situation to save the country,” he insisted. He blasted SBP governor for defending massive rupee devaluation and said a person, who did not know the ABC of economy had been imposed as the SBP governor, being the jugular vein of economy.

At the very outset of the Senate session, Gilani told the chair that many opposition lawmakers would like to speak on price hike. He also announced that a token walkout will be staged by the opposition as a mark of protest against the anti-people policies of the government.

PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, afterwards also lodged a protest when the House continued with the routine business, saying that the agenda should be suspended to take up the issue facing the people.

“Loaves of the people have been ruined and we are behaving in a manner as if everything is normal,” he remarked. He pointed out that sugar was being sold at Rs 160.

Leader of the House in the Senate Dr Shahzad Wasim, in his response to the opposition’s speeches, said that rates of petroleum products had been enhanced due to international increase in their prices and said it was indeed so unpleasant to do this but there was a rationale behind.

He pointed out that the government has significantly decreased taxes on petroleum products and added Prime Minister Imran Khan presented a massive relief package of Rs120 billion to provide essential items on subsidised rates. He said in addition to the relief package, several projects were also being run under Ehsaas Program at a cost of Rs260 billion for the deserving people.

Senator Shahzad took the opposition to task and said that had they not indulged in corruption in building motorways and roads and then building Surrey Palace and Avenfield apartments, the PTI government would not have gone to the IMF.

“We are ready for serious talk and proposals but they want only one thing and that is they should be back to power to continue again all this. They are not ready to face facts,” he added. In the meantime, opposition senators came in front of the chair’s dais and then walked out of the House.

Later, PPP Parliamentary Leader Senator Sherry Rehman returned to the House to point out lack of quorum and when the count was made, the House was not in order and even after bells were rung for five minutes, only 16 members were present in the House, forcing the chair to adjourn the House till Monday afternoon.  

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