ISLAMABAD: According to The News on Thursday, officials have informed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of their intention to alleviate the country’s severe electricity bill load. The Fund has been assured, though, that none of the goals set by the previous government would be endangered.
Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, the acting finance minister, stated on Wednesday that a team from Pakistani authorities met with IMF officials. Despite not being a part of the team, she reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to adhering to the IMF program. According to insiders in the finance ministry, the IMF program’s emergency allocation of Rs250 billion in the budget for 2023–2024 can be used to relieve the burden on consumers of energy.
It will take some time, nevertheless, for the IMF to accept the suggested relief plan, which might only apply to people using up to 400 units.
The budget for 2023–24 involves Rs250 billion for an emergency allocation, which would be used to stagger billing while also perhaps reducing certain charges for protected consumers.
Top official sources told The News on Wednesday that the amount “will only be utilized for users of up to 400-unit slabs, with the permission of IMF.”
When contacted, a senior official involved in negotiations with the IMF stated that due to the power subsidy, the fixed aim of accumulation in the circular debt, and the primary surplus of 0.4% of GDP for the current fiscal year, they would not violate the IMF’s envisioned targets.
The official acknowledged that they did not submit the plan to the IMF in writing, which, in the opinion of economists, could cause the proposed relief package for consumers of electricity to be further delayed.
High inflation in Pakistan, in particular, because of expensive electricity costs, has sparked five days of statewide protests in which people have been burning bills in public and refusing to pay them.
After the protests, the caretaker government had an emergency conference but was unable to come up with a plan to give the populace quick respite; as a result, it opted to wait until it received the IMF‘s approval before moving through with any proposal.
The Washington-based lender requested in writing that Pakistan submit its proposal to lower electricity costs.