Reacting to the countrywide protests against the inflated electricity bills, former finance minister Miftah Ismail on Thursday asked the government to abolish sales tax from the electricity bills for giving relief to the general public.
In an interview with private TV channel programme, the former minister revealed that the caretaker government will have to get permission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before giving relief to those consumers who use 200 to 300 units of electricity per month.
Miftah also said the caretaker government can reduce the tax burden on domestic consumers using up to 300 units of electricity. “The IMF will agree on the bills’ issue if the government talks to the fund humbly.”
Miftah recalled, “When I was finance minister, Shehbaz Sharif directed me not to increase power tariff for those using up to 200 units.” He maintained that he talked to the IMF about the matter and subsequently, the international lender approved his request. “If sales tax is removed from electricity bills, then where will it be collected from?”
If the government avoids imposing sales tax on property, agriculture and services sector, it will shift it to the poor, which is being done, the former minister observed.’ He urged the leadership of political parties across the board to devise a strategy to collect tax from the rich, adding that taxes are not meant for just the poor.
PM summons meeting over inflated bills
In a response to the widespread outcry over inflated electricity bills, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has urgently convened an emergency meeting in Islamabad to address the escalating situation.
This comes as cities across Pakistan, including Karachi, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and Gujranawala, have witnessed protests erupting over the soaring electricity bills that have left many consumers in shock.
Prime Minister Kakar has directly instructed the Ministry of Energy and the power distribution companies to present a comprehensive briefing on the contentious issue. The meeting aims to deliberate on strategies that could provide maximum relief to the masses burdened by the steep electricity charges.
Expressing his commitment to the matter, the prime minister took to social media to announce the meeting at the PM House and expressed his intention to consult widely to alleviate the concerns of power consumers.
Disgruntled consumers resorted to blocking roads
The uproar has been fueled by numerous power consumers across various cities who have decried the reception of exorbitant electricity bills. In a display of collective frustration, protests have materialized in different urban centers.
Disgruntled consumers have resorted to blocking roads and even burning their electricity bills as symbolic gestures of protest. Many have also declared their intent to challenge the perceived injustice by the public utility companies in court.