The government issued a warning on Friday, predicting that power prices will continue to rise over the coming months before declining in November and December.
According to DAWN, the State Minister for Petroleum, Musadik Malik, and the Minister for Power, Khurram Dastgir Khan, both spoke at a news conference and stressed that there won’t be any immediate respite for the populace until the corrective measures are finished.
Imran Khan’s “landmines” and the previous administration’s pricing restrictions, which “locked their hands with legal compulsions” for the prices, were blamed for the predicament. The ministers accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government of delaying pricing changes for electricity and natural gas that were due following the regulators’ tariff judgments and of amending laws before it left office to compel the successor administration to address the backlog.
Minister Malik emphasised that while the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were also offering more affordable and unconditional loans to withstand the effects of the pandemic, the PTI government had failed to arrange for LNG, coal, and furnace oil to be imported when they were available at their lowest prices.
When the new government took office, he said, the prices of the commodities had soared by 300 to 400 percent and they were no longer accessible in the market for any price.
Minister Malik observed, “They (PTI) set traps for us.”
He explained that although the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has consistently recommended decisions on gas price increases, the previous administration had not made them public for more than three years. In its final days, it had also modified the statute so that the following administration could not use the OGRA determination that takes automatic effect after 40 days of notification.
They had the legal authority to set gas prices, but they did so by removing these powers from the control of later governments. Another trap, he continued.
For the time being, a commission that will soon be formed will look into how things came to this position and decide what has to be done to avoid a repeat of it. To help the general public, the government will also develop plans in the upcoming months to guarantee the residential sector makes the best use of solar energy, up to 5,000–6,000 MW.