Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday announced a relief package for industrial sector with 50 percent reduction in rate of commercial electricity on additional usage by Small and Medium Enterprises. Flanked by his team of economic experts here, the Prime Minister said the package would promote industries in the country that had suffered losses in the past due to high cost of electricity. The announcement was made after the federal cabinet gave approval to the package. Prime Minister said for next three years, all industries on additional usage of electricity would be provided 25 percent relief considering their previous bills. He also announced an end to peak-hour system for commercial electricity users, with provision of uniform electricity rates round the clock. Imran Khan said a strong infrastructure of energy was vital to help industries grow and compete with international market. He pointed that with 25 percent expensive electricity rates, Pakistan lagged behind India and Bangladesh in terms of exports. “It is extremely important for Pakistan to strengthen industrialization, which will lead to wealth creation and thus help pay off the debt,” he said. Imran Khan regretted that the contracts signed with power generation companies during previous tenures resulted in production of high-cost electricity, which remained unaffordable for industrial sector. During 2013-2018, he mentioned that the country’s exports dipped from Rs 25 billion to Rs 20 billion as many industries were shut down due to high cost of electricity. Prime Minister said soon after assuming the government, his team’s focus was on increasing exports as “higher the exports, stronger the economy”. During the pandemic of COVID-19, he informed that Pakistan ranked high among the countries of sub-continent in growth of exports. In view of the second wave of coronavirus, the Prime Minister appealed to the nation to continue wearing face masks to avert the risks and dangers of the disease. Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said under the package, which was prepared on the special instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan and approved by the cabinet today, the industries would be provided electricity at off-peak hours’ rate for 24 hours for next three years. The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), he said, would be getting 50% tariff relief on the use of additional electricity, considering their bills of November 2019, during next six months, while all the industries would be provided with additional electricity on 25% reduced rates for next three years. Hammar Azhar said the decision would help boost economic growth, strengthen industry, increase exports, and create employment opportunities. Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Asad Umar said it was for the first time that such a big reforms package in the energy and power sector had been announced for the industries with the fixation of tariff for three years. He said the way the whole nation fought the COVID-19 pandemic, early opening of businesses and the construction industry, and the policy of smart lock down which helped check the spread of coronavirus and death rate, pushed the wheel of economy running in Pakistan earlier than various countries. Asad Umar said with the second wave of COVID-19 the number of corona cases were increasing, the government, besides efforts to protect the people from the virus, was also trying to keep the businesses and industry open for the benefit of country. Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan said despite the ‘landmines’ placed by the previous regime, the present government was bringing improvement in the power sector through various bold policy decisions. He said despite domestic resources, the previous governments were running the power producing units on 75% imported fuel for their personal gains. The present government, however, made a power production agreement for alternative resources like solar and wind energies at the rate of Rs 6.5 per unit as against the previous regime’s agreements of Rs 24 per unit. Omar Ayub said in terms of the energy-mix, Pakistan would be meeting 25% and 30% of its electricity requirements through alternative energy resources by the years 2025 and 2023 respectively. Advisor on Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh said with above the target revenue collection during the first four months of the current fiscal year, exports growing, industry strengthening, current account and primary account in surplus, and a well-performing stock market, the economy was on the right track. He noted with pleasure that the country’s debt did not register any increase over the last four months.