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Govt to construct Diamer-Bhasha Dam at all cost: Dar

Govt to construct Diamer-Bhasha Dam at all cost: Dar

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance Senator Ishaq Dar has said that the government will construct Diamer-Bhasha Dam at all cost from its resources and will not wait for any foreign assistance.

“It is the decision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that the government will kick off the 4,500 MW hydro power project without waiting for the World Bank’s funding which is expected to be released after two years,” he said.

Dar said the government is committed to completing both Dasu and Diamer-Bhasha hydro power projects and it will not step back from any of the project. He said that for Dasu Dam project, the World Bank would provide a loan of $700 million and work on this 4,320 MW hydro power project would be started in March, 2014.

With respect to recent increase in power tariff, the minister said that National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) both have regulatory powers and the government respects their decisions. “But the Nepra had recommended the government to increase power tariffs on the consumers who are using more than 100 electricity units. But the Prime Minister was not ready to put burden on the lower middle class of the country,” he said.

The minister said on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, it was decided that power rates should be increased only for the consumers who are using over 200 units, which means that about 66 per cent people of the country were exempted from the increase in electricity. Similarly, according to a summary for the increase of petroleum prices sent by Ogra, the price of petrol was to be increased by Rs6.12 and the price of high speed diesel was to be increased by Rs6.69 but the Prime Minister refused to accept these proposals and directed to give subsidy of Rs2 per liter on petrol and diesel.

Replying to a question, Dar said the depreciation of local currency against greenback is temporary and it will improve during coming weeks. “The value of rupee against the US dollar was decreased mainly due to the rumours and there were no solid justification,” he said, adding that now its value is improving and it has the potential to further improve by Rs5-6 as the government is taking strict administrative action in this regard.

The minister said that the decision of privatisation of some state owned entities was taken mainly in government’s own favour as it would help further strengthening the organisations. He said the employees of those organisations need not to be worried because the government would fully protect the rights of the employees. He said that through privatisation process the government aims to maintain good governance and corruption free atmosphere.