Islamabad -Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday accorded approval to increase electricity tariff by Rs2.50 per unit and decided to himself review the energy situation on weekly basis, sources said.

These decisions were taken in a meeting of a special committee formed to solve the problem of power shortages. The meeting held at the PM’s office reviewed the ongoing energy crisis and decided to take comprehensive steps to increase power generation to meet the burgeoning demand.

Sources at water and power ministry told this scribe that the new government had to give a subsidy of Rs350 billion because electricity was being purchased at Rs14/unit from the private power producers and being provided to the consumers at Rs9/unit. They said that the government would save up to Rs150 billion by increasing the power tariff by Rs2.50/unit.

Upset by the rising loadshedding, the PML-N chief is leaving no stone unturned to end the menace. During the meeting, he ordered for short- and long-term measures to overcome the crisis and directed the officials to take the provinces on board in the consultative process regarding the issue.

The meeting took stock of the overall energy situation and examined ways and means to improve it. It was decided in principle to take tangible measures to increase power generation through energy mix and explore alternate resources. The meeting underlined the need to reduce theft, rationalise tariff and minimise line losses. It also decided to immediately start contacts with neighbouring states, including India, for energy import.

The meeting was apprised by energy experts about the strategy and implementation of timelines for the reduction of loadshedding. It was also informed that a new comprehensive energy policy, which includes short- , medium- and long-term energy plan, would be ready by the end of this month as consultation was going on with all the stakeholders.

The meeting was informed that a comprehensive strategy for recovery of dues from the defaulters has also been devised. It was also revealed that a highly professional project management office is being established in the Ministry of Water and Power. The office will also have policy and implementation cells, and it will supervise and review the progress on key policy decisions and the energy implementation plan.

The prime minister expressed the confidence that with dedication, better management and facilitation of energy sector companies, the situation would improve in the near future.

He, however, directed that option of long-term energy security must also be examined and practical steps be taken in this regard. He directed that providing special care and maximum relief to the common man must be the top-most consideration at the time of rationalisation of tariff.

The meeting was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Information Minister Pervez Rashid, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif, Special Adviser to PM Dr Mussadiq Malik, Capt Shujaat Azeem, Shaukat Fayaz A Tareen, Nadeem Babar, Mifta Ismail and Zayad Basheer.