After extensive negotiations prompted by widespread protests against soaring electricity bills, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reportedly granted approval to a relief proposal targeting consumers with monthly electricity consumption of up to 200 units, allowing authorities to implement an installment-based billing system, according to sources cited by Geo News.

Sources indicated that the final authorisation for implementing the installment billing system will require approval from the federal cabinet. 

Approximately 4 million electricity consumers are expected to benefit temporarily from this initiative.

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Regrettably, the interim government’s proposal to extend relief to consumers using up to 400 units of electricity per month was rejected by the IMF. This decision means that approximately 32 million consumers would have benefited if the proposal had been accepted.

Additionally, sources disclosed that the IMF stressed the importance of combating electricity and gas theft while also focusing on improving revenue collection.

Furthermore, the sources revealed that the IMF had requested an increase of 45 to 50 per cent in gas tariffs, effective from July 1. However, the approval of this tariff hike remains contingent upon federal cabinet approval.

In response to persistent protests by citizens and traders who have taken to the streets to denounce the steep increases in power bills and additional taxes, the caretaker government led by Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar in Islamabad has been actively engaging with the IMF to secure immediate relief for electricity consumers in the economically challenged nation, where the populace is grappling with soaring inflation.

It is crucial to note that Pakistan is currently operating under an IMF programme, making any relief or subsidy subject to IMF approval.