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Areas with low recovery of dues facing blackouts

Federal Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir Khan Tuesday said that only those areas are experiencing load shedding where recovery of dues is low.

Addressing a press conference alongside Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb and Minister for Law Azam Nazir Tarar after the cabinet meeting, he said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had ordered a new policy to generate more electricity and boost the performance of the energy sector in the next 10 years.

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On the PM’s directive, he said, the load shedding schedule would be balanced in both rural and urban areas, which was a big challenge, but “we will achieve this task”.

The minister added that power generation in the country had reached 22,634MW. Additional resources are needed to control load shedding, he maintained.

He held the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for the poor performance of the energy sector.

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“All-out efforts are being made to clear outstanding dues till June 30.”

The minister said that distribution companies had been asked to increase collection of dues.

In her address, Marriyum Aurangzeb criticised what she described as the poor agricultural policy of the former PTI government.

She said the cabinet had decided to continue selling sugar and flour at the rates fixed earlier under the Ramazan relief package. A 20kg flour bag would be sold at Rs800 instead of Rs950. Likewise, she added, sugar would be available at Rs70 per kg instead of Rs85 per kg.

She said that the prime minister had ordered a complete ban on the export of sugar to stabilize prices. “Sufficient stock of sugar was available in the country to meet its demand,” she added.

The minister recalled that the PTI government had allowed the export of sugar and created its artificial shortage to hike its price to Rs152 per kg. “The commodity was imported on the pretext of its high prices, which had ultimately put an extra burden on the masses.”

She said the cabinet accorded approval to the import of three million metric tonnes of wheat for a specified period only. “During the previous PML-N government, Pakistan was exporting wheat in 2018, and efforts were afoot to again make the country self-sufficient in its production.”

She said the prime minister also directed the authorities concerned to chalk out an incentive-based agricultural policy that would enable the country to curtail wheat import.

Talking about inflation, Marriyum said a comprehensive monitoring mechanism was put in place by the prime minister soon after taking charge of his office to ensure availability of three essential commodities – sugar, flour and ghee – at fixed rates.

The minister claimed that the PM Shehbaz-led coalition government would steer the country out of crises. “The prime minister would soon address the nation to announce reform packages, and would also present the facts on Imran’s claim of foreign conspiracy before them.”

She said the cabinet also approved a proposal suggesting the revocation of more than one foreign passports possessed by a Pakistani national under the Passport Act, 1974.

She said last date for the cancellation of dual passports was December 31, 2022.

Marriyum said the PM also shared details of his recent visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with the cabinet. It was informed that the country’s leadership visited the two brotherly countries with a complete strategic partnership plan under which investments would be made in different sectors through joint ventures.

She said that the cabinet also approved the decisions made by the Economic Coordination Committee in its meeting on May 9.

The resignation of WAPDA Chairman Muzammil Hussain was also accepted by the cabinet, she said, adding that the WAPDA member finance has been given the additional charge of chairman till a new appointment is made.

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