Despite record power outages, load-shedding, frequent power failures, erratic voltage and – most alarming – the deaths of scores of people, including children, in Karachi owing to K-Electric’s faulty system, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has provided Rs91 billion subsidy to the utility within a short span of three years.
In a written reply to a question, the Minister for Energy (Power Division), Hammad Azhar, said that Rs25 billion subsidy was given in 2019-2020, Rs10 billion in 2020-2021, and Rs56 billion in 2021-2022, by the federal government to K-Electric consumers.
“The government has transferred the budgeted amount of subsidy to the consumers of K-Electric as per commitments made by the government […] already in-time monthly subsidies are being provided to the consumers of K-Electric,” he added.
To a question about the cities where underground water has turned unhygienic, the Minister for Science and Technology, Shibli Faraz, said that the National Water Quality Monitoring (2020-21), a survey done in 29 main cities revealed that 61 percent of water sources were unsafe for drinking mainly due to microbial contamination.
He said that based on the number of samples collected, the cities where more than 50 percent drinking water sources were found unsafe due to microbial or chemical contamination include Bahawalpur (76 percent), Faisalabad (59 percent), Multan (94 percent), Sargodha (83 percent), Sheikhupura (60 percent), Abbottabad (55 percent), Khuzdar (55 percent), Loralai (59 percent), Quetta (65 percent), Hyderabad (80 percent), Karachi (93 percent), Sukkur (67 percent), Badin (92 percent), Mirpur Khas (100 percent), Tando Allahyar (57 percent), Shaheed Benazirabad (100 percent), Muzaffarabad (70 percent), and Gilgit (100 percent).
However, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in a written reply about the expenditure made for recently held Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference by the Foreign Ministry, said: “The Economic Coordination Committee of Cabinet and Federal Cabinet approved two technical supplementary grants in its meeting held on Nov 29, 2021, i.e., (i) Rs233.342 million for foreign affairs ministry and (ii) Rs64.2 million for Interior Ministry. The grant for Interior Ministry includes Rs25.8 million for Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Rs38.4 million for ICT Police”.
At the same time, he said the ministry is in the process of reconciliation of expenditure as vendors are gradually submitting their invoices, adding head-wise expenditures can be shared only after completion of reconciliation process.
Meanwhile, days after the government passed the ‘mini-budget’ and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) autonomy bills quorum issue once again dominated the house.
As the house was about to take up the first agenda item the “Questions”, Agha Rafiullah of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) pointed out the quorum. Initially, the proceeding remained suspended for almost 30 minutes, but on re-count of the members, the presiding officer, Amjad Ali Khan, adjourned the house due to lack of the required number to run the proceedings of the house.
This article was first published in Business Recorder on Jan 18, 2022.