Pakistan traders protest over soaring electricity bills, rising inflation

Islamabad, Sep 2 (EFE). Traders in Pakistan observed a shutter-down strike in most parts of the country on Saturday against soaring electricity bills and rising inflation.

The strike is part of the protests that began last weekend, prompting the government to hold emergency meetings without any outcome.

Electricity consumers have complained about inflated electricity charges.

Trade unions and the religious-political party Jamaat-e-Islami had called for the strike, which had a partial effect.

Some shops were open in some places, even as social media videos showed people forcing shopkeepers to shut down their stories.

Video footage showed the protesters burning electricity bills, vowing not to pay them unless raised tariffs and taxes were withdrawn.

Last month, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) approved a hike of the average tariff by around 5 Pakistani rupees per unit, pushing the base from 24.82 rupees to 29.75 rupees.

According to a NEPRA statement, the increase was “mainly due to overall low sales growth, rupee devaluation, high inflation, exorbitant interest rates, and the addition of new capacities.”

Pakistan is battling rising inflation, increasing unemployment, and prolonged political instability.

The country’s currency has depreciated sharply since the interim government took charge in mid-August.

On Friday, the Pakistani rupee hit a record low of 305 against the United States dollar.

On the same day, petrol price increased from 290.45 rupees to 305.36 rupees.

In late June, the government signed a crucial deal with the International Monetary Fund to secure a bailout package of $3 billion.

It received the first tranche of $1.2 billion from the global lender as part of the nine-month standby agreement. EF


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