People have to pay higher charges due to expensive power plants installed by PML-N govt: Hammad

APP57-180122 ISLAMABAD: January 18 - Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain and Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar addressing a joint press conference at PTV Headquarters. APP photo by Saeed-ul-Mulk

ISLAMABAD, Jan 18 (APP): Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar Tuesday said the people had to face persistent raise in the electricity prices on account of Fuel Price Adjustment (FPA) charges due to the expensive energy plants installed by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government.

Around 60 percent of power was being produced by the plants running on imported oil fuel, but ironically the PML-N was politicking on the issue, he said addressing a press conference along with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain after the Federal Cabinet meeting.

Discussing the issue of gas shortage in Karachi, Hammad Azhar said there were around 1900 non-export industrial units, which used to be shut down by the former governments for one month in winter to fulfill the needs of domestic consumers.

During the current season, the industrial units had obtained a stay order from the Sindh High Court and resultantly the people of Karachi had to face gas shortage, he added.

He said the non-export industry in Karachi used some 100 MMCFT gas and gas loadshedding in the mega city could be reduced if its supply was diverted to the domestic consumers.

The minister said domestic consumers were number one priority of the government for gas supply, followed by the export-oriented industry and then the non-export industry. Such priority order for gas supply was followed in winter every year. The counsel for Sui Southern Gas Pipeline Company would plead the case before the SHC on Wednesday and try to get the stay order vacated, he added.

As regards the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Hamad said the opposition was deliberately ignoring the facts and tried to make the issue controversial.

The SBP was not as much autonomous as the central banks elsewhere in the world, including Europe and the United States, were. Through autonomous central banks, the developed countries managed to reduce inflation with sustainable economic growth, he added.

The minister said in the past, governments used to manipulate the policies of SBP. A former SBP deputy governor was indicted in a money laundering case along with a former finance minister, he recalled.

He said under the proposed law, the Federal Government would appoint the SBP’s governor, deputy governors, and board of directors (BoD).

The law regarding security of tenure had been present for the last 50 years, however, the BoD would now have the power to remove the governor, he added. Criticizing the PML-N leadership, he said the PML-N government had also got passed a bill from the Parliament regarding the SBP’s autonomy in 2015.

The role of SBP had been further strengthened by substituting the Federal Government’s approval wherever required with that of the BoD in the current bill, he added.

Hammad said it was the demand of seasoned economists to make the SBP an autonomous institution. He clarified that the SBP and all its assets would be under the control of Federal Government.