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PM Imran unveils power relief package for industries

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday unveiled a major relief package of the electricity tariff for small and medium industries to benefit from reduced energy costs.

Addressing the nation after a meeting of the federal cabinet, the prime minister said that starting November 1, the additional electricity used by SMEs will be sold at 50 percent lower cost till June 30 next year.

“So whatever amount of electricity they used in addition to the level that they used last November, it will cost half of what it did previously,” he explained. “For example, electricity that costs Rs16 per unit will now cost Rs8.”

The prime minister explained that the cost of electricity in the country was expensive because previous contracts signed for power generation were expensive which had adverse effects for the country.  He said that these rates will then be revised beyond the aforementioned date. He said all industries will be provided additional power at 25 percent of the rate for the next three years.

The prime minister also said that industries will pay reduced electricity costs at all times and the concept of ‘off-peak hours’ will be redundant.  He said that after the coronavirus lockdown period, the nation has witnessed record-high cement sales, as well as high levels of automobile sales while the construction industry is also booming.

The prime minister lamented that the service industry was severely impacted during the lockdown period and it was necessary to support the industrial sector. He stated that the package would not only increase exports but would also give a boost to domestic industries.

Earlier, at the outset of his briefing, the prime minister regretted the high electricity costs in the country due to the expensive contracts signed by the previous governments. He said the industries were unable to compete with those that operate on 25 percent less expensive electricity. He said that exports declined from 2013-2018 and the government decided to raise them as the country’s growth depends on it.

Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said that the prime minister stressed on facilitating industries with low input costs to increase production and generate more employment. Azhar said that the cabinet made a tough decision and industries will be available to avail off-peak hour benefits around the clock.

He said that industries that make additional use of electricity and fall within the B1, B2 or B3 categories will get an added 50 percent off per unit till June 30, 2021. He added across the entire industrial sector – which includes B1, B2, B3, B4 and B5 connections – will be given an additional 25 percent discount for the next three years will be given for utilising additional electricity.