KARACHI - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Monday announced a cut of Rs3 in per unit tariff of electricity for industrial users and urged the exporters to translate it into increased exports for the country.

Addressing the 39th Annual Export Awards Distribution Ceremony under the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), the prime minister assured that as things improved, more concessions would be made to help the industrial community.

The announcement got a standing ovation from a hall full of the country's top entrepreneurs for the great relief and fulfilling of their long-standing demand.

The prime minister said the tariff would be applicable from January 1, 2016 and urged the business community to work harder and produce better quality goods, generate employment and earn foreign exchange for the country. He said his government's focus was on addressing the three main challenges of improving economy, ending power shortages and countering terrorism, inherited by it in 2013.

Nawaz Sharif mentioned the threats of extremism and terrorism and said he was committed to root out the same for good from Pakistan. He said Pakistan, and particularly Karachi, were much better and safer than what they were three or six years back.

He said today the change was significant as foreign businessmen were now coming to the city and interacting with local counterparts and hoped that in the days ahead, Karachi would be vibrant and serve as the country's economic hub.

The prime minister said the government was working on short, medium and long term projects to make the country self-sufficient in power generation. He said the country used to witness 12-18 hours of loadshedding, but today it was considerably less and things were improving gradually.

The prime minister said his government was also trying to make electricity cheap and lower cost of production so as to make these more competitive and help end unemployment. He said the issue of loadshedding was being addressed at multiple levels. He recalled his visit to the Port Qasim coal-fired power generation plant and directed that it be completed by 2017.

He said in financial years 2017-18, 10,000MW more electricity would be added to the system and another 15,000MW by the year 2025. He said the coal from Thar would be used to generate 3,600MW electricity. He also referred to setting up of other power plants that were being installed at 40 per cent lesser cost, saving Rs 100 billion to the national exchequer.

The PM also mentioned the construction of Diamir Bhasha project that would generate 4,500 MW, Dasu Dam, besides the nuclear power plants of K2 and K3, Neelum Jhelum and the fourth Tarbella Expansion project that would make the country self-sufficient.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday also inspected 1,320MW the coal-fired Bin Qasim power project and directed for ensuring its completion by December 2017. He asked the concerned Chinese authorities to take steps for making it completely functional by the deadline of December 31, 2017. The prime minister had last year laid foundation of the project which is a part of the Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. He assured the Chinese engineers that his government was fully supporting the development projects. He said the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan was also giving full support to the workforce at the site.

PM Nawaz was briefed that the project, costing a total of $1.5 billion, would comprise of two power houses, each generating 660MW of power which would be added to the national grid after their completion.

The Chinese authorities expressed their satisfaction over the security situation and the support, given by the Government of Pakistan. They told that first tranche of $200 million had already been released for the project while international standards were observed for completion of the project.

Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir and Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong and other high officials accompanied the PM.

Earlier, the prime minister was given a briefing on Port Qasim Authority projects including existence of 250 industries set up in its allocated zone, besides 8 operational terminals. The Port Qasim is the most busy and income generating port in the country, contributing immensely to the national economy.

It was informed that an LNG terminal was also made operational within record period of eleven months, converting the LNG into gas. The government has been working on LNG power projects which would generate about 3,600MW power.