No additional burden

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CHAIRING a meeting to devise a strategy for reduction of the circular debt, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, on Monday, directed ministries and officials concerned that no additional burden should be placed on electricity and gas consumers and problems of the energy sector should be resolved by increasing revenue through other possible avenues.

He said the transmission system should be improved to prevent theft and losses of electricity and gas instead of burdening consumers.

Electricity and gas tariffs are already touching unsustainable limits and further increase in prices would not only complicate economic woes of the people but also create serious problems for the overall economic activity, which is already subdued.

It is the cumulative effect of a rapid increase in the prices of POL products, electricity and gas tariffs and massive devaluation of rupee that Pakistan is today the second most expensive country in South Asia.

This should be a matter of concern for an elected government and, therefore, the directions of the Prime Minister not to burden consumers further are quite understandable.

We have been emphasizing in these columns that no amount of increase in gas and electricity rates would resolve the chronic issue of circular debt and instead the Government should upgrade and modernize transmission and distribution systems, bring down line losses and show zero tolerance for electricity and gas thefts.

As the task requires massive investment, the possibility of accomplishing it under the framework of CPEC may also be explored.