Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said the government had “no other option” but to implement the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
He regretted that if they wanted to give any subsidy in any sector, they had to go to the IMF, “which is a painful reality.”
He said the coalition government never wanted to transfer the burden of price hikes. In the past, the PTI government blatantly breached the agreement with the IMF.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said that they had devised a plan to immediately convert all the federal government entities’ buildings to solar power by April next year in order to slash a huge chunk out of the country’s costly fuel import bill hovering around $27 billion.
Unveiling details, the prime minister said that the procedures for conversion to solar power should be fast-tracked as they had set April 2023 as the timeline for the implementation of this plan.
Addressing a conference, the prime minister said under the plan, all the federal government ministries, departments, authorities and their offshoots in the provinces would immediately shift to solar energy.
He said it would be a model for the rest of the provincial governments as the federal government would not make additional expenditures on installing solar system.
The prime minister also urged all the relevant authorities and the stakeholders to complete the required process by the end of April next year and meet the timeline which had been set.
“Consider it as our political, social, national and religious duty to implement it as soon as possible,” he opined.
The prime minister said with these urgent measures, they would be able to generate 300MW to 500MW of cheap power, thus reducing the import bill worth billions of dollars each year.
The prime minister assured that the whole process would be conducted through transparent bidding via a third party.
He also urged the provincial chief ministers to emulate the federal government’s launched pattern and introduce solar systems in their respective provinces, assuring the federal government’s complete assistance in this regard.
“It is the only option for our survival as a nation,” he added.
The prime minister said that the process for the generation of 10,000MW solar power in the country had already commenced and such a conversion by the federal government buildings would be the first phase.
Enumerating the economic challenges faced by the country due to skyrocketing fuel and gas prices after the Russia-Ukraine conflict, he said that developing countries like Pakistan had to bear the brunt.
He said $27 billion costly fuel import bill was a big challenge for countries like Pakistan, adding that the ongoing conflict had also surged prices of gas and worsened its availability as the supply to Europe was disrupted.
The prime minister said during the Covid pandemic, the prices of gas crashed to the lowest and it was sold at $2 per unit. The then government committed criminal negligence by not securing its import and due to it, now the whole nation had been suffering, he added.
He said during former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s tenure, a 15-year agreement for the purchase of LNG at 13.2 percent of the Brent was reached with Qatar, but unfortunately, it was politicised by the subsequent government.