The caretaker government on Tuesday decided to seek the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) nod before providing relief in electricity bills. Interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said the caretaker government was engaging with the International Monetary Fund regarding relief measures for electricity consumers and an announcement was expected soon. Solangi made this revelation after a federal cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, deliberated on the Ministry of Energy’s recommendations for reducing high electricity bills in Islamabad today. When Solangi was asked about the progress made in the meeting on Tuesday, he said during an appearance on a private TV channel that decision for providing short-, medium- and long-term relief to consumers were taken. But, he added, these decisions entailed some implications on which the IMF needs to be taken onboard. “As we speak, our [interim] Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar is talking to them. So I hope we will soon be in a position to make the announcement,” he said. Asked when the announcement would be made, he replied: “It is a matter of few hours. You are aware of the time difference and complications pertaining to talks with the IMF.” The interim minister said he was expecting that a decision would be reached without any difficulty as the relief measures finalised by the caretaker cabinet would not affect the “two pillars” of primary surplus and circular debt. Meanwhile, Caretaker Minister for Energy and Petroleum Muhammad Ali on Tuesday said that a comprehensive strategy is being evolved to bring speedy progress in the energy and petroleum sector. We will try to reduce capacity payments in the power sector, he said while talking to a private television channel. Structural changes is essential to gain objectives from the oil and gas sector, he said. The focus is being given to attract investment in exploring the oil and gas field, he added. In reply to a question about the excessive use of electricity, he said a discussion would be made with all traders of big cities so that less use of electricity could be ensured by closing shops before midnight. To another question, he said there is a need to address issues of circular debt and capacity payments. While the cabinet meeting was under way, the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) rejected the recent increase in electricity prices. Addressing a press conference in Lahore, FPCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh highlighted that the burden of price hike had become unbearable for the people. He acknowledged that the interim government, too, was facing a tough situation, but added that they “need to realise that prices cannot be raised beyond the paying capacity of the people”.