The government warned on Friday that electricity prices will keep surging over the next few months until they drop in November-December.
As reported by DAWN, the Minister for Power, Khurram Dastgir Khan, and the State Minister for Petroleum, Musadik Malik, spoke at a press conference and said that there will be no instant relief solution for the public until the corrective reforms are completed.
The dilemma was attributed to “landmines laid by Imran Khan” and legal price constrictions by the previous government which ‘tied their hands with legal compulsions’ for the prices. The ministers blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for putting off-price adjustments for electricity and natural gas that were due after the tariff determinations by the regulators, and for modifying laws before it left to force the new government to clear the backlog.
Minister Malik emphasized that the PTI government had failed to arrange for LNG, coal, and furnace oil to be imported when they were available at their lowest prices while the World Bank (WB) and the International Monitory Fund (IMF) were also providing cheaper and unconditional loans to sustain the impacts of the pandemic.
He added that the prices of the commodities had increased by 300 to 400 percent and they were unavailable in the market at any price when the new government came into power.
“They (PTI) laid traps for us”, said Minister Malik remarked.
He explained that the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had regularly recommended determinations for the gas price hikes but the former government had not announced them for more than three years. It had also amended the law in its last days, under which the next government could not leverage OGRA’s determination that automatically stands notified after 40 days.
“They enjoyed legal powers to decide about gas prices but withdrew these powers from the purview of subsequent governments to do so. This was another trap,” he added.
For now, an upcoming commission will investigate how the situation reached this point and will determine the measures to be taken so to prevent a similar relapse. The government would also devise schemes in the coming months to ensure maximum utilization of solar energy up to 5,000-6,000 MW in the residential sector to provide relief to the masses.