PM Kakar’s cabinet to mull proposals on sky-high electricity bills today

Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai
Rana Ansar
Saif ur Rehman
Tariq Abul Hasan
A trader sets electricity bills on fire during a protest against the surge in petrol and electricity prices at a street in Karachi on August 28, 2023. — AFP
A trader sets electricity bills on fire during a protest against the surge in petrol and electricity prices at a street in Karachi on August 28, 2023. — AFP

  • JI calls for nationwide protests against inflated bills on Sept 2. 
  • PM-led third, final round of the meeting to be held today. 
  • IESCO urges consumers not to damage any state institutions.

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi on Monday said that the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) finalised the proposals aimed at the reduction of over-inflated electricity bills as protests continued across the country for the fourth consecutive day.

The call for protest comes as demonstrators demand a reduction in the electricity tariffs and the removal of excess taxes on utility bills, warning that they would not pay the bills if the demands were not met.

A day earlier, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar called an emergency meeting in light of the demonstrations and directed the relevant authorities to come up with a plan within 48 hours to provide relief to the consumers.

Taking to X, previously known as Twitter, Solangi said that a high-level huddle was held today during which the Energy Ministry finalised the proposals which will be tabled in the cabinet meeting today (Tuesday) for further deliberation.

The ministry also said that the federal cabinet is authorised to approve these proposals and decisions.

Meanwhile, the second round of meetings under the chairmanship of PM Kakar ended today after consultations with the Energy Ministry. A third and final round of the huddle will be conducted today. 

Incensed citizens, already battered by skyrocketing inflation continue to take to the streets protesting against massive hikes in electricity tariffs and increased taxes in several cities including Karachi, Sialkot, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Mandi Bahauddin, Gujranwala, Hyderabad, Gujrat, Okara, Shahkot and Abbottabad. 

Those attending these demonstrations include members of the civil society — both men and women — traders, farmers, and members of the legal and business fraternities.

Major political parties including Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qoumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) have voiced their concerns and called for protests against the bills. 

JI calls for nationwide protest on September 2 

JI Ameer Siraj-ul-Haq has announced a nationwide strike against the bills on September 2 (Saturday), adding that a historical rally will be held in Rawalpindi on September 1. 

Meanwhile, traders in Karachi raised slogans against the government and K-Electric (KE).

During the protest, trader's organisation representative Atiq Mir while addressing the traders said that they fully support the countrywide strike.

"We will not pay IMF [International Monetary Fund] loans for the luxury of the rulers," he said, urging the consumers to not back off for the sake of their children.

He said that there is an issue of unfair distribution of resources, adding that the [government officials] are living off of our taxes.

JI Karachi Chapter Ameer Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman said political leaders are not aware of the common man's sufferings and difficulties.

He further said that taxes are being collected from common people and businessmen. "Why is tax not being imposed on landlords? he questioned.

Speaking about the emergency meeting, Rehman said the caretaker PM has disappointed the nation.

IESCO announces instalments in bills' due date

The Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) announced power bill instalments for the convenience of consumers after hundreds of people surrounded its office in Rawalpindi. 

The IESCO officials called in the police for extra security as protesters shouted slogans against the electric utility company. 

The IESCO spokesperson said that they have also extended the date for the payment of the bills to provide ease to the people. "We will try to minimise the additional burden as much as possible," he added. 

Bill instalments and due dates can be extended from SDO Revenue Excise offices or customer service centres, said the spokesperson.

"IESCO has no role in the increase of taxes and tariffs," the spokesperson said, urging the consumers to not damage any state institutions.