K-E versus industries

But K-Electric, which never misses an opportunity to squeeze its consumers dry

Editorial March 29, 2019

The industrial units of Karachi which had earlier been granted zero-rated status by the government have complained about being overcharged by K-Electric on account of power tariff. The chairman of the SITE Association of Industry, in a communication with federal ministers, complained of the “discriminatory electricity charges being applied to zero-rated industries in Karachi”. While Hyderabad Electric Supply Company, Faisalabad Electric Supply Company, and Lahore Electric Supply Company are charging these industrial units at 7.5 cents per kWh on the total bill, K-Electric is billing these units at 7.5 per kWh on variable charges and then includes fixed charges, government duties and taxes.

Worried about the dwindling exports, the federal government had, in January, notified concessional power tariff for export-oriented zero-rated industries including textile, carpet, leather, sports and surgical goods. Earlier in Sept 2018, the government had allowed subsidised gas supplies to these industries in addition to captive power plants. All these measures aimed at reducing the trade deficit and boosting exports.

But K-Electric, which never misses an opportunity to squeeze its consumers dry, had its own explanation to offer on the complaint of these industrial units. The power utility deploying the usual rhetoric maintained that it was a “law-abiding, responsible corporate entity which ensures compliance with all respective guidelines prescribed by relevant authorities”.

Apparently finding some room to manipulate the government notification on concessional tariff for zero-rated industrial sectors, K-Electric maintained it had sought some clarifications from the Centre regarding the implementation of the new tariff in light of the January notification. While the explanation by K-Electric may sound plausible, it is for the power and finance ministries to immediately help resolve the issue in the best economic interest of the country. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2019.

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