Power Minister Khurram Dastgir on Wednesday said that the recently announced exemption for fuel adjustment charges (FAC) in August’s billing would cost the government Rs22 billion.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi, the power minister said, “The exemption will only apply to the consumers who consumed less than 200 units in June.”
The minister said that the relief package was designed keeping in mind the agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
He said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has approved waving off fuel adjustment charges of only those customers who had used up to 200 units during the month of June.
The fuel adjustment was charged through the current month of August billing. "The waver is only for one month."
He assured that power outages would reduce and fuel adjustment charges would taper off gradually. "Consumers will feel at ease from the month of October," he further said.
He said that the power consumers across the country had received increased electricity bills due to the fuel surcharge of June which was added to the bills of July.
The minister said that although the consumers had utilised lesser electricity during July compared to June, however, they received higher bills which included the surcharge of June.
Read more: Govt to scrap fixed tax, waive FAC on electricity bills
He said that despite the crisis and challenges being faced by the government, it had been decided to provide relief to the masses.
Dastagir said that those who had paid their bills would be given relief in their power bills in the next month while those who haven’t paid would get their revised bills. “Besides, the fuel surcharge for the agricultural consumers had also been abolished.”
The power minister also announced that the fixed tax imposed on commercial metres would also be abolished from October.
Earlier, the minister managed to reach K-Electric head office in Karachi amid protest by the people against inflated and overbilling and prolonged power outages.
"We are here to settle issues with K-Electric (do do hath kerna hay KE kay sath)," Dastagir said multiple times while addressing a press conference at K-Electric head office on Wednesday. "I know people are in pain and complaining against load-shedding and overbilling.”
He added that the KE privatisation did not happen as per expectations in 2006.
The minister said they would set up more power plants only on local fuels including wind, solar, hydel and Tharcoal.
The federal minister said that he has come to Karachi to settle long pending "financial and legal issues" between the federal government and the KE.
When a journalist asked whether he was going to renegotiate and sign a new agreement on privatisation with the KE, Dastagir did not deny it.
Dastagir said that he is to hold a meeting with KE high officials after finishing the press conference today.
He criticised former prime minister Imran Khan-led previous government for the increased power crisis in the country. “During the tenure of Imran Khan, the projects of alternative energy were miserably neglected. No single megawatt production was done from any source of alternative energy during the tenure of the previous government, he expressed,” he added.
He said that the incumbent government had focused on alternative energy and soon power production would start from Thar coal. “The government is working to ensure the provision of uninterrupted and affordable power supply to the consumers across the country.”
Dastagir said that efforts were also underway to modernise the power distribution companies under the vision of PM Shehbaz.
He said that the companies had been asked to ensure the rapid installation of metres, resolution of complaints of consumers and prevention of power thefts on modern lines.
The minister said that Imran Khan continuously lied to the nation that there wasn’t any shortfall of electricity. In fact, he clarified, the power production was much lesser than its demand.
He said that the country’s power supply was dependent on outdated plants running on expensive furnace oil.
To a question, the power minister said that restructuring of Nepra is underway. “The regulatory body during the tenure of the previous government was not working on its primary function that is a revision of rates.”
To another question, he said that the privatisation of K-Electric didn’t deliver the required results; however, efforts were initiated to improve its working for the desired results.
Responding to a query, Dastagir said that the reconciliation of financial affairs of K-Electric was also underway and positive results were expected from this reconciliation.
To a question about the provision of relief in terms of electricity bills to the flood victims of Sindh and Balochistan, he replied that initially the government was focusing on their (flood victims) rescue, later the steps, for relief and rehabilitation, would also be taken.
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