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Decision on hike in power tariff deferred 3rd time

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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) headed by Finance Minister Asad Umar on Monday deferred a decision to increase power tariff owing to the pressure of the private sector and the masses.

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired an ECC meeting today which focused on a one-point agenda regarding the increase in electricity prices.

According to sources, ECC members deferred the decision on the matter and summoned a meeting on Wednesday (October 24) to discuss according approval for the increase in power tariff.

“The government wants to increase the power tariff in two phases,” sources added. “The Ministry of Power has sought permission from National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) regarding increasing the power tariff by Rs3.74/unit in two phases, however, the government is facing difficulty in increasing the price after NEPRA’s new tariff,” the sources further said.

“NEPRA has upheld that the phase-wise rise will further increase the government’s economic problems,” they added.

Earlier this month, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team which visited Pakistan called for a further hike in gas and power tariffs.

An IMF team led by Harald Finger visited Islamabad from September 27 to October 4 to discuss Pakistan’s economic situation and exchange views on necessary policies for economic stabilisation and sustainable and inclusive growth. At the end of the visit, Finger “welcomed the policy measures implemented since last December” which include 18 per cent cumulative depreciation of the rupee, interest rate increases of cumulatively 275 bps, fiscal consolidation through the budget supplement proposed by the minister of finance, a large increase in gas tariffs closer to cost recovery levels, and the proposed increase in electricity tariffs.

“These measures are necessary steps that go in the right direction,” the IMF mission head said.