Rise and rise in power tariff

In the current financial year, the tariff will soar by Rs2.33 per unit

Editorial March 18, 2019

While power consumers are still to get to grips with the Rs1.20 per unit hike in the tariff notified in December last year, the government is planning to hit them with more.

According to a report in this newspaper, a Rs3.26 per unit rise in the base power tariff is coming up in coming months, and the income generated would cater to the revenue requirements of power distribution companies.

The raise will be made in phases. In the current financial year, the tariff will soar by Rs2.33 per unit; and in the coming financial year, it will climb by another Rs0.94 per unit on account of quarterly adjustment. The two hikes will earn the government Rs223 billion and Rs97 billion respectively, and take the overall per unit power tariff to Rs15.31 from Rs12.98.

However, that is not all. Apart from the quarterly adjustment, power consumers may also have to bear the brunt of monthly fuel adjustment in the shape of another Rs1.9 per unit hike from April to June 2019 – in the event of the use of furnace oil by power plants on consumption of the assured daily supply of gas which is 850 million cubic feet.

Power providers have many more tricks up their sleeves to lift the tariff and generate money to squeeze the consumers dry, like the funny-sounding ‘extra tax’, ‘further tax’, apart from the ‘general sales tax’ and several types of surcharges.

Consumers have had paid for the construction of Neelum-Jhelum power project or for settling the ever-accumulating circular debt or for servicing the debt obtained from private power producers?

Even though the incumbent officials have done well in terms of improving recoveries, tackling theft and curtailing system loses, their performance leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, it is the consumer who is caught at the receiving end all the time.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2019.

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