ISLAMABAD - Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said on Saturday that providing cheap electricity to the consumers on sustainable basis is the top priority of government. 

Addressing a news conference along with Special Assistant on Power Shahzad Qasim, he said that expensive power contracts were signed in the past and it is not possible to undo them unilaterally.

He said that a basic agreement has been signed with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) as a first major step towards providing cheap electricity to the consumers.

The Information Minister said that expensive electricity was the main concern of Prime Minister Imran Khan and he wanted to address the issue immediately.

Hence a team was constituted which held negotiations with the IPPs to revisit the old contracts.

Shibli promised that by 2023, the government would ensure supply of affordable electricity to the consumers as they no longer could afford to use costly energy.

Shibli Faraz said that these agreements not only forced the consumers to pay more cost of the electricity but they also affected exports due increase in cost of production.

He said after coming to power, the PTI government following its manifesto had taken steps to reform the energy sector. He said that a committee was constituted on IPPs which presented its report.

He said that the objective of the government was to ensure availability of power at affordable tariffs to the consumers. 

Shibli Faraz said that in the past the renewable energy sector was totally neglected but the present government had planned to have up to 25 per cent renewable energy share in the energy mix by 2030 to ensure cheaper power production in the country.

He said that the objective of the report on IPPs was to learn about the reasons behind costly agreements and take steps to reduce their price.

He said that in the past the governments did not pass on the burden of increased cost of electricity to the consumers due to political reasons which resulted in ballooning of circular debt. 

The minister said that the PTI government took the corrective measures irrespective of their political fallout.

He said that under the agreement signed with the IPPs, payments will only be made for the electricity acquired and consumed instead of the total installed capacity of a particular power plant.

Similarly, the equity return will now be made in rupee rather than dollar like in the past.

Speaking on the occasion, Shahzad Qasim said that under the MoU, late payment interest will be reduced from 4.5 percent to 2 percent.

He said that the government is making allout efforts to finalize all modalities under the MoU with IPPs in two-and-a-half years.

He said that NEPRA will review progress and all issues of the IPPs. 

The SAPM said that in the past unilateral tariff agreements were not devised by erstwhile régimes. It will take some time to ensure a unilateral agreement regarding tariffs with all the IPPs, said Shahzad Qasim.