KARACHI: Nearly two-thirds, 65% to be exact, of K-Electric’s customers have been slapped with a 26% increase in tariff, which rose from Rs8.1 per unit to Rs10.2 per unit after the power distribution company introduced a new slab recently, says Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra.
In a statement, Vohra said the government had brought a new category for K-Electric consumers by dividing the previous slab in a bid to impose a high tariff on consumption of more than 200 units per month.
The old slab, which covered consumption of 100 to 300 units a month, has been split into two categories of 101 to 200 units and 201 to 300 units.
He was referring to a statutory regulatory order according to which the Ministry of Water and Power allowed an increase in electricity tariffs for domestic consumers with effect from mid July. The move was in line with the government’s commitment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the country would withdraw power subsidies in order to reduce the fiscal deficit.
According to Vohra, 65% of K-Electric consumers consumed between 100 and 300 units per month and were charged Rs8.1 per unit, but with the addition of the new slab, those consuming more than 200 units have been subjected to a 26% increase in tariff to Rs10.2 per unit.
The statement also reflects concerns of most of the people of Karachi who were surprised to see the inflated power bills last month, double in many cases, without any increase in consumption.
Referring to the billing criteria, the KCCI president said the billing for this slab might now be calculated without giving the benefit of previous slab to the consumers. He blamed the government for playing havoc with the consumers by paving the way for the power utility to not only enhance profits but also support losses and inefficiencies of power generation units.
The adviser to the KCCI sub-committee for public sector utilities, power and gas, Dr Qazi Ahmed Kamal, has also voiced concern over the division of the slab and increase in tariff at a public hearing conducted by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).
“Even if the increase was based on the concept of subsidy withdrawal and did not require a hearing, the factual position should have been publicised,” Vohra remarked.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2015.
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