ISLAMABAD   -    The government has assured the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of increasing electricity and gas prices in different phases to eliminate the subsidy given to the consumers.

Talks between Pakistan and visiting IMF have continued in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Sources informed The Nation that the government had assured the visiting delegation that it would gradually increase the prices of electricity and gas. However, the government would protect the poor segment of the society from the price hike.

The government would withdraw subsidy worth Rs340 billion in next three years, which has been given on electricity and gas prices.

The government has also assured the IMF that it would not interfere in the matters of OGRA and NEPRA in fixing gas and electricity prices respectively. This was one of the main demands of the IMF, according to sources.

Minister for Power Omar Ayub has also said there is no other option than to increase in the price of electricity. “There will be an increase in the price of electricity in stages over the next year and a half,” he said while talking to media.

He further said that the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) wants to increase the price to Rs2 per unit, however, increasing the price by a rupee or two will not be accepted by the public. 

The IMF has asked Pakistan to increase the tax collection target to Rs5.4 to 5.5 trillion in next fiscal year by taking additional tax revenue measures of Rs600-Rs700 billion in upcoming budget.

According to the IMF, the official said, the budget deficit could not be controlled without massive taxation.

The sources said that talky between two sides are expected to complete tomorrow.