Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday directed authorities concerned to take steps to reduce circular debt in the energy sector and decided to restrict market timings till 8pm to save energy.
In a meeting chaired by the prime minister on energy sector, its participants considered adoption of a comprehensive strategy to control the present circular debt in oil and gas sectors.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the prime minister said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government completely eradicated the circular debt during its 2013-2018 government tenure. He pledged to bring the problem of debt under control with continuous efforts and effective planning.
PM Sharif directed that reforms in the energy sector should be undertaken in a way that the circular debt could be eliminated. Chief ministers of the provinces have also been invited to the cabinet meeting to take them on board on the issue.
The distribution companies of Sui gas should improve the system of recovery of bills and no additional burden should be put on gas and electricity consumers,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.
He said the system for payment of bills of gas and electricity should also be made effective. The meeting also reviewed the energy saving plan, which would be presented before the federal cabinet on Tuesday.
The prime minister said that the energy transmission system should be improved and losses and theft of electricity and gas should be stopped.
Media reports quoting the power division said that the circular debt which stood at Rs2.253 trillion by end of September last year had now reached Rs2.437 trillion, showing an increase of Rs185bn.
In order to conserve electricity and gas, the government also decided to restrict timings of markets across the country till 8pm.
A government source said that the federal cabinet would meet on Tuesday to discuss the single-point agenda —implementation of energy conservation plan.
The source said the energy saving plan had been devised to stabilise economy, conserve energy and cut the import bill because the country faced an extraordinary situation and it required extraordinary measures.
The plan, prepared by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, was approved at ahigh-level meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday and the federal cabinet would give its final nod in consultations with provinces.
In the last meeting, all provincial governments had been asked to complete their homework regarding energy conservation plan including closing timings of markets till 8pm.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb had said the plan would be presented in the next cabinet meeting for final approval and all chief ministers would be invited so that it could be implemented in collaboration with provincial governments.
Under the plan, a crackdown on electricity theft would be launched and many private and government buildings would be converted to solar energy.
The main purpose of the emergency energy saving plan is to reduce the pressure on people and the economy as the prices of oil and gas have continued to rise in the global market.
It is expected that the energy conservation plan will save billions of dollars annually that would help stabilise the economy and save the precious foreign exchange.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has appointed Dr Talha Muhammad Younis Al Kashmiri as the coordinator of the prime minister for Arab Digital Media while Mr Waqas Mehmood has been appointed as coordinator of the PM for digital media.
Both the appointments have been made by the prime minister on honorary basis.