PM Imran Khan announces relief package for industry

Unveils 50 percent cut on additional electricity usage for small, medium enterprises

By: News Desk      Published: 03:29 PM, 3 Nov, 2020
PM Imran Khan announces relief package for industry
File photo.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday announced a relief package under which small and medium enterprises as well as the industrial sector in general will be able to benefit from reduced energy costs.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad after chairing a high-level meeting, Imran Khan said that starting November 1 the additional electricity used by SMEs up to June 30, 2021,

will be sold at 50 percent lower than the actual rate.

Flanked by his team of economic experts, the Prime Minister said the package would promote industries in the country that suffered losses in the past due to high cost of electricity.

The announcement was made after the federal cabinet gave approval to the package.

The Prime Minister said for the next three years, all industries on additional usage of electricity would be provided 25 percent relief considering their previous bills.

He also announced an end to peak-hour system for commercial electricity users, with the provision of uniform electricity rates round the clock.

"So whatever amount of electricity they use 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 cost Rs16 per unit will now cost Rs8 for these industries." He said that these rates will then be revised beyond the aforementioned date.

The prime minister also said that industries in general, even the large scale ones, will pay reduced electricity costs at all times, and the concept of "off-peak hours" will be redundant. "It will be as if it’s all off-peak hours."

He said that after the coronavirus lockdown period, record-high cement sales have been recorded, as well as high levels of automobile sales. "Our construction industry is also booming," he added.

The prime minister lamented that the service industry was severely impacted during the lockdown period and it was now imperative that our industrial sector be propped up and perform well.

Imran Khan said a strong infrastructure of energy was vital to help industries grow and compete with the international market.

He pointed out that with 25 percent of expensive electricity rates Pakistan lagged behind India and Bangladesh in terms of exports. “It is extremely important for Pakistan to strengthen industrialization, which will lead to wealth creation and thus help pay off the debt,” he said.

Imran Khan regretted that the contracts signed with power generation companies during previous tenures resulted in the production of high-cost electricity, which remained unaffordable for the industrial sector.

During 2013-18, he mentioned that the country’s exports dipped from $25 billion to $20 billion as many industries were shut down due to high cost of electricity.

The Prime Minister said soon after assuming the government, his team focused on increasing exports as “higher the exports, stronger the economy”.

He expressed satisfaction that Pakistan ranked high among the countries of sub-continent in growth of exports during the pandemic of COVID-19.

In view of the second wave of coronavirus, the Prime Minister appealed to the nation to continue wearing face masks to avert the risks and dangers of the disease.

Taking over the briefing, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said that the prime minister has stressed on the fact that industries must be facilitated so that with low input costs, production can be increased, and in turn, more employment generated.

"So we have made a huge decision today, a tough decision, and the cabinet has approved it," he maintained.

Azhar said that the decision means that industries will be available to avail off-peak hour benefits around the clock.

The minister said that in the past, what would happen was that during peak hours, electricity cost for industries would increase by 25% and this practice had been going on for many decades.

"So now we have decided that industries will be able to avail off-peak rates all 24 hours.”