–Info Minister Fawad says NAB has already begun probe against LNG power plants established in Punjab
–Says decision on raising power prices deferred by ECC meeting due to absence of energy minister
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday said that the government has decided to conduct an audit of power plants established by the previous government in order to fix responsibility of “wrongdoings” in them.
Addressing a press conference, Chaudhry said that power plants that were set up by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government are generating electricity at a high cost. He added that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had already initiated an investigation into Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) power plants established in Punjab.
“Quaid-e-Azam solar plant is the most expensive power plant in the world,” he claimed, adding that the government has already started the audit of two power plants.
The minister said that the current average price per unit of power was Rs 15.53 while consumers were being provided electricity for Rs 11.71 which caused the national exchequer a loss of Rs 2.63 per unit. He added that a deficit of Rs 1.2 billion was being incurred daily in the winter months and Rs 1.8 billion in the summer months.
“As a result of these losses, circular debt is ballooning by thirty-four to thirty-six billion rupees every month.”
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has already recommended an increase in the power tariff.
“NEPRA informed us that we should increase the prices of electricity or incur a loss on a daily basis,” he added while stating that the demand for electricity stands at 14,000MW today.
Claiming that the PML-N carried out “criminal acts,” he said that they took decisions and huge loans without any economic plans. “The way PML-N played with the institutions needs to be brought forward,” the information minister added.
He further said, “It is not fair to blame the current government for PML-N’s failed policies.”
The minister also said that a framework to check money laundering had been prepared.
According to Chaudhry, “corrupt elements” would be brought to justice and a new Pakistan would emerge as a result of the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The information minister further vowed that there will be no compromises on the process of accountability and said, “It is not the government’s but the Pakistani people’s decision to hold the corrupt accountable.”
However, stating that when calls for accountability are made “some friends suggest that we should not go against opposition parties,” Chaudhry questioned, “When everything has to run like this then what is the need for PTI to be in power?”
“Whenever accountability is spoken about, it is said that the democracy is in danger,” he added. “People are not even aware and billions are being discovered in their accounts.”
He further said, “We tried our best to ensure that the poor are not affected by the hike in gas prices and are striving to fix things.”
The information minister also clarified that no decision regarding a hike in power tariffs was taken during the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) meeting. “Federal Minister for Energy Umar Ayub is out of town and a decision will be taken during the next ECC meeting,” he added.
According to reports, the ECC of the cabinet allowed the supply of imported re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) to five Punjab-based industries at half the existing prices despite having no budgetary allocation. The Rs63.5-billion subsidy for textile, carpet, leather, sports and surgical goods industries will be given by issuing a supplementary grant, according to officials of the finance ministry.
Chauhdry also stated that the premier will take the nation into confidence regarding all matters soon. “Pakistan’s future is bright and there will be good news soon.”
Commenting on the by-polls that were held on October 14, the information minister stated, “The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) set a new example as no minister visited any constituency.”
“All parties were allied against us, but still they could not defeat us and PTI secured the most seats,” he concluded.