(Web Desk)- Former finance minister Miftah Ismail argued that the existing administration would be unable to provide assistance to the poor if it did not seek approval from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Following widespread public outrage over excessive power bills, the former minister stated that the caretaker administration will seek IMF clearance before granting assistance to electricity users who use 200 to 300 units per month.

Pakistan and the IMF struck a staff-level agreement on a $3 billion stand-by arrangement on June 30.

Miftah stated on a local television broadcast that the caretaker administration may reduce the tax burden on household users who use up to 300 units of power.

“The IMF will agree on the issue of the bills if the government talks to the fund in a humble manner,” the minister stated.

Miftah recalled his tenure as finance minister, saying, “When I was finance minister, Shehbaz Sharif directed me not to increase power tariffs for those using up to 200 units.”

He stated that he had discussed the topic with the IMF, and that the international lender had accepted the proposal.

In Pakistan, he stated that electricity rates had reached record highs, and that the issue might be alleviated if the government removed sales tax from electricity bills. He did, however, state that the government must reach the revenue collecting objective.

“Where will sales tax be collected if it is removed from electricity bills?”

If the government avoids placing a sales tax on real estate, agriculture, and services, it will move it to the poor, as the former minister remarked.

He asked the leaders of all political parties to establish a strategy for collecting taxes from the wealthy, emphasizing that taxes are not only for the poor.

“Because contracts signed in 1994 and 2002 have expired, new contracts should be signed to produce cheaper electricity,” the minister proposed.

He also recommended privatizing all of Pakistan’s energy distribution corporations (discos).

In response to a query, the minister stated that the existing administration was not to blame for the rising power costs. He said that customers were footing the bill for electricity theft and the growth in circular debt.