Cabinet opts for relief

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THE Federal Cabinet, in its meeting on Tuesday with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, considered several important issues having direct bearing on the life of the people and decided not to raise the electricity and gas tariff as already pledged by the Prime Minister. It also approved Pakistan National Education Plan 2020 envisaging introduction of unified curriculum in all the educational institutions, including religious seminaries whose students would be brought to the mainstream by providing them modern education facilities.
The decision not to increase the tariff of gas and electricity would surely bring some relief to the consumers who are weary of repeated hikes in tariff with serious implications for family budgets and also overall economy of the country. A comparison of energy prices with the rest of the countries of the region would reveal that tariff of electricity in Pakistan is hundred or two hundred per cent more than some of them and as a result our exports suffer badly. In this backdrop, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s unequivocally reiteration of the government’s resolve not to put the burden of increased bills of electricity on the people is reassuring. He emphasized that the masses should not suffer due to gaps in generation and supply of electricity, caused by the agreements signed by the past governments. However, this is also an indirect acknowledgement that the phase of crippling electricity shortage is behind us due to focus of the previous government on generation. PML(N) Government added enough power to the national grid to ensure meeting requirements of the country for the next ten years but its opponents were doubting its claims of additional generation. It may also be pointed out that there is difference between the previous announcement of the Government to come out with out-of-box solutions for bringing prices of both electricity and gas down and the decision taken now not to increase their tariff.
We have been emphasizing in these columns that the problem can be addressed by focusing on upgradation of the system and prevention of widespread theft. Therefore, the information provided to the Cabinet that 500 feeders in the country were secured and modern technology was being employed to stop line losses is a step in the right direction. However, instead of most efficient discos like IESCO, where a process is underway to replace old meters with digital ones, focus should be on those discos where percentage of theft is high. The decision regarding introduction of a unified curriculum is also in line with demands of the modern times as it would ensure that haves and haves-not will have equal access to quality teaching material, provided we come out with proper revision of the syllabus. As for the logic offered by Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan during briefing to newsmen about proceedings of the Cabinet that the Prime Minister is not attending sessions of Parliament as he has been busy resolving problems of the people is hardly plausible. Parliament being true representative of the people, the Prime Minister would get a better sense of the issues and problems being confronted by people if he attends its sessions regularly. In the absence of the Prime Minister, members of the cabinet too take little interest in attending sessions of the two houses with negative impact on the overall performance and output of Parliament.