LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said that energy theft of billions of rupees has been detected and indiscriminate action has been taken against electricity ad gas pilferers regardless of their status and influence.

Shahbaz Sharif said that the country is up against the challenges of terrorism, extremism and energy crisis while important and serious steps are being taken to address them all.

Economic and trade activities have been slowed down due to shortage of electricity.

The Chief Minister said that circular debt of Rs480 billion in energy sector has been repaid while subsidy for rich segment of the society has been withdrawn. He was talking to Chairman Fortescue Metals Group Australia, Andrew Forrest here on Friday.

Matters regarding promotion of cooperation in minerals and education sectors as well as elimination of forced labour were discussed on the occasion.

The CM on the occasion welcomed cooperation of the Australian group in minerals and education sectors.

He said that Australia has expertise in agriculture and livestock sectors and Punjab wants to benefit from it.

Members of Australian Group Raza Jaffar, Christine Nicolau, Felicity Gooding, Provincial Ministers Sher Ali Khan, Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan, Secretary Schools Education, Minerals, Chairman Punjab Examination Commission, Commissioner Punjab Social Security and other concerned officials were present.

He said that Punjab government has taken solid measures for the provision of quality educational and health facilities in the province.

The Chief Minister further said that the former rulers indulged in corruption of billions of rupees during their five years’ tenure. He said that the present government has taken effective steps for the elimination of corruption and it is due to this fact that no scandal of corruption has surfaced during the last five months.

The Chief Minister said that Australian group should consider cooperation in setting up campus in knowledge city and minerals sector. He said that elimination of forced labour from the province is the priority of the government and the efforts of Australian group in this regard are commendable.

Andrew Forrest expressed the desire for cooperation in minerals, education, agriculture and livestock sectors with Punjab government. He said that the efforts of Punjab government for elimination of forced labour would be fully supported. He said that Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif is rendering commendable services for the welfare and betterment of the masses.