ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday gave a go-ahead for the early execution of 10,000 megawatts solar energy project to reduce the import bill of costly diesel and furnace oil.
The prime minister, who chaired a meeting to provide major relief to the masses, said the electricity should be generated through solar instead of imported fuel. The decision has been taken to save the foreign exchange as it would help the country save billions of dollars.
In the first phase, the solar energy would be supplied to the government buildings, tube wells operating on electricity and diesel and domestic consumers with low consumption. The prime minister directed the relevant authorities to ensure the early installation of solar plants to provide relief to the people before the next summer season. He asked the authorities concerned to immediately start the execution of the project. He also called for holding a conference of all stakeholders by next week before the bidding process.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif enhanced the limit of the waiver on fuel adjustment charges in electricity bills from the existing 200 to 300 units.
Addressing the members of national and provincial assemblies belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, he said the step was aimed at facilitating the common man already facing the brunt of inflation.
The prime minister proposed to also waive off the electricity bills of the consumers in flood-affected areas, besides exempting the farmers from ‘abiyana’ (water charges on crop irrigation). PM Shehbaz also announced to launch in near future a solar programme for the production of 10,000 mega-watt of electricity as a cost-effective mode across the country.
He said the solar programme would generate electricity at the rate of Rs 9 per unit, saving billions spent on expensive electricity production. He lauded his economic and power team for making all-out efforts to materialize the mega solar project, which, he said, would especially benefit schools, hospitals and tubewells.
The prime minister mentioned that Pakistan was facing extreme challenges while meeting the requirements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), particularly taking steps to give subsidy on electricity. He said severe mistakes and neglect by the previous government to address vital issues resulted in economic instability, however, the nation could overcome the challenges with correct decisions about the leadership.
He said the coalition government in four months faced challenges like economic instability as the predecessors made every effort to push the country onto the brink of default. The prime minister mentioned that the previous government in the last around four years did not provide even a bit of relief to the common man and also did not fulfill the requirements of IMF. “Pakistan has to learn from its mistakes with a determination to overcome every challenge with resilience,” he said. He said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government at first exported wheat and later imported the commodity at exorbitant rates. Also, he added, the price of petrol was kept unrealistic, which incurred heavy losses to the national economy.
He said the PTI government in the name of subsidy wasted billions of rupees from the national exchequer. He said the coalition government from the very beginning was determined to address the economic problems to benefit the people and had no other choice but to take unpopular decisions about increasing the petrol price. The prime minister criticized PTI leader Imran Khan for making statements in the past inciting the general public to put their utility bills on fire, and use ‘hundi’ to route their money other than the legal banking channels. He pointed out that the PTI leader was misappropriating billions of rupees donated for his his hospital by diverting them to the expenses related to his politics.
He urged the nation to have a realization about Imran Khan’s true face, which had been exposed following his intention and desire for the country to face Sri Lanka-like situation. It was now upon the people of Pakistan to awaken their conscience and reject the narrative of Imran Khan based on “lies and deceit”.
“Pakistan is not destined to become Sri Lanka. The nation with its resilience will make the homeland a land of prosperity and development,” he said. Shehbaz Sharif said the government was making untiring efforts to mitigate the sufferings of the people affected by floods. He said over 1,000 people, including 300 children, lost their lives as the floods swept away a large area across the country.
He said the federal and provincial governments along with the National Disaster Management Authority and the Pakistan Army were carrying out relief and rescue activities to their best. The prime minister mentioned that the government was disbursing Rs 25,000 to every household affected by the flood under the Benazir Income Support Programme.
He said the federal government gave a grant of Rs 15 billion to Sindh and Rs 10 billion to Balochistan as flood relief assistance. Also, Rs one million was being given to the relatives of each deceased. The prime minister said it was the time for all to realize the sufferings of the people in flood-affected areas and come forward to support the government by donating relief goods. He said the government was cognizant of the miseries of flood-hit people and directed the MNAs and MPAs of his party to reach out to the affected people by themselves. He expressed confidence that the nation would overcome the challenges with resilience and unity.