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Chinese power scams under CPEC cause loss of $630mn to Pakistan

The IPPs have obtained 350 billion Pakistani rupees since 1994 by altering the actual cost by Rs 2 to Rs 15 billion.

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China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

New Delhi/Islamabad, May 19 : In an effort to explore the causes for the steep cost of electricity in Pakistan, the Imran Khan government has unearthed a scam of over $630 million involving power projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

This has led to the bloating of Pakistan’s debt to $11 billion.

Pakistani media has reported that an inquiry committee constituted by Prime Minister Khan to examine the losses in the power sector has discovered corruption worth 100 billion Pakistani rupees by the Chinese private power producers.

The committee has recommended the government to force the producers to pay the amount for alleged malpractices.

Although the Profit Pakistan Today (PPT), which broke the news, did not mention the CPEC anywhere, Pakistan’s former Ambassador Hussain Haqqani in an article in a US-based portal revealed that the scam was related to the Chinese businessmen contracted for the CPEC power projects.

The nine-member committee, as per PPT, submitted a unanimous 278-page long report, ‘Committee for Power Sector Audit, Circular Debt Reservation, and Future Roadmap’, to Khan.

The report has attributed the losses incurred by the government due to the “violation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that include the cost of the installation of Independent Power Producers (IPPs), government agreements, alleged embezzlement in fuel consumption, power tariff, guaranteed profit in dollars, and certain conditions of power purchase”.

The committee had members from the offices of eight organisations,”which surprisingly included the premier spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as well”.

The documents related to more than 60 power plants were examined by the committee for over a period of eight months.

According to the report, the IPPs have been earning 50 to 70 per cent annual profits, as against the 15 per cent limit set by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA).

The committee has claimed that the “IPPs owners showed the extra cost to get extra tariff at the time of the contract, with NEPRA failing to check the veracity of the cost. The cost of the power plant prepared by the companies was also accepted by the authorities”.

The IPPs have obtained 350 billion Pakistani rupees since 1994 by altering the actual cost by Rs 2 to Rs 15 billion.

An “owner of a coal power plant offered a cost which was Rs 30 billion more than the actual cost in order to obtain higher power tariff”.

The IPPs owners, as per the committee, earned “unjust” profits in fuel consumption whereas NEPRA never gauged the efficiency of the consumption.

The owners had also resisted signing an agreement for a regular audit, the report said.

The government and power consumers are forced to pay billions of rupees annually even if the power plants are closed or produce low electricity due to cut in power demand, it added.

The committee has said that the government is bound to pay 900 billion Pakistani rupees to power plants under the head capacity payments while it will have to pay a capacity payment of 1500 billion Pakistani rupees by 2025 according to the agreement.

Though the guaranteed profit should not be for more than four to five years, the government and NEPRA has granted guaranteed profit for 25 years, the report claimed.

“These lop-sided agreements caused unbearable loss to the exchequer. The prevalent practice also led to a hike in power tariffs,” the report said.

Business

Tomato prices skyrocket to Rs 70/kg in Delhi-NCR

He attributed the hike in the prices of all vegetables and fruits, not only tomatoes, due to the increase in diesel prices, which led to an increase in the transportation cost of vegetables.

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Tomato

New Delhi, July 3 : With the onset of the monsoon tomato prices soared to Rs 70 per kg in New Delhi and its surrounding areas on Friday.

Crop failure in the rainy season and the late arrival of tomatoes in the mandis (wholesale markets) have led to the price hike. However, the prices are expected to fall after the arrival of the new crop from Himachal Pradesh next week.

A month ago, the price of tomatoes in Delhi’s Azadpur mandi was between Rs 1.25 and Rs 4.75 per kg, while the wholesale price on Friday was Rs 6.44 per kg.

The model rate of tomato was Rs 3 per kg in Azadpur mandi on June 3, which has increased by 10 times to Rs 29 per kg. On July 2, the wholesale price of tomatoes rose to Rs 52 per kg in the mandi, which means there has been an increase of about 995% in the last one month. Due to the rise in wholesale prices, tomatoes were sold at Rs 80 per kg on Thursday in Delhi-NCR and Rs 50.70 per kg in Greater Noida.

Azadpur Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) chairman Adil Ahmad Khan said prices have gone up due to late arrival of tomatoes. The quantity of tomatoes received at Azadpur mandi was 528.2 tonne on June 3 while on July 3 it was 281.6 tonne. The quantity has thus been reduced by nearly 50 per cent in a month. Only 241.9 tonne were received on July 2 due to which the wholesale price was Rs 6.52 per kg while the model rate was Rs 32 per kg, Khan added.

He attributed the hike in the prices of all vegetables and fruits, not only tomatoes, due to the increase in diesel prices, which led to an increase in the transportation cost of vegetables.

From next week, the arrival of the new crop from Himachal Pradesh will lead to a decline in the prices of tomatoes. He said at present 90 per cent of the tomatoes in Delhi arrive from Himachal Pradesh while only 10 per cent are received from Haryana and Karnataka.

The consumption of all green vegetables, tomatoes and onions has declined during the past few months because of the shutdown of hotels, restaurants, canteens and dhabas following the nationwide lockdown in the wake of the corona pandemic. This led to a marked fall in prices. The wholesale price of tomatoes had come down to less than one rupee per kg.

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Business

JioMeet takes on Zoom, can support up to 100 participants

JioMeet offers unlimited meetings per day and each meeting can go uninterrupted up to 24 hours.

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JioMeet

New Delhi, July 2 : Amid growing calls for ”Made in India” digital tools, Reliance Jio has launched a free video-conferencing application called JioMeet, taking on US-based Zoom platform.

According to the JioMeet description on Google Play Store, the application can be used for 1:1 video calls and hosting meetings with up to 100 participants with enterprise-grade host controls.

Other highlights include easy sign up with either mobile number or email ID, meeting in HD audio and video quality.

The application can be used for creating instant meetings to chat with friends and also to schedule a meeting in advance and share meeting details with invitees.

JioMeet offers unlimited meetings per day and each meeting can go uninterrupted up to 24 hours.

The application can be used on Android, Windows, iOS, Mac, SIP/H.323 systems.

JioMeet has already been downloaded for over 10,000 times from Google Play Store.

Each meeting is password protected and the host can enable a “Waiting Room” to ensure no participant joins without permission, JioMeet said.

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Auto

Tesla delivers over 90K vehicles in Q2 2020, stock up 9%

Tesla’s revenue in Q1 2020 reached $5.9 billion, an increase of nearly $1.5 billion a year ago. The company ended the quarter with $8.1 billion of cash.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk

San Francisco, July 2 : Tesla stocks were up 9 per cent on Thursday after the electric car maker posted stronger-than-expected quarterly deliveries.

The Palo Alto-based company said it delivered 90,650 vehicles in the June quarter. It achieved the feat despite its Fremont, California based factory was out of action owing to Covid-19 lockdown for most part of the quarter.

Tesla delivered 80,050 Model 3s and Model Ys in the quarter and 10,600 of its Model S luxury sedan and Model X SUVs.

“In the second quarter, we produced over 82,000 vehicles and delivered approximately 90,650 vehicles,” Tesla said in a statement.

Tesla market cap was over $200 billion and its stock closed at a record $1,133.36 on Wednesday.

“While our main factory in Fremont was shut down for much of the quarter, we have successfully ramped production back to prior levels,” it added.

Tesla reopened its Fremont, California-based factory after a long fight with the local authorities as sheltering-at-home rules were in place in May.

The company posted a surprise profit of $16 million in the first quarter of 2020 despite temporary disruptions in productions due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Tesla’s revenue in Q1 2020 reached $5.9 billion, an increase of nearly $1.5 billion a year ago. The company ended the quarter with $8.1 billion of cash.

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