Business community lauds SC suo moto against power tariff hike

Islamabad: The local business community in a meeting at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry lauded the Supreme Court’s move to take suo moto action against government’s notification to increase the power tariff by 40-90 percent for domestic consumer and termed it a timely initiative to save the already burdened consumers from more trouble.

Chairing the meeting, Shaban Khalid said that the implementation of new power tariffs would almost crush the consumers as it will increase electricity price by almost Rs.6 per unit for those consuming 201 to 300 units, which is unbearable for a common man.

As per Pakistan Electric Power Co’s electricity consumption software, one day’s consumption of a 100 watts bulb, 60-100 watts fan and 400 watts fridge comes to 382 units per month, which is less than average household electricity consumption while the bill of 300 units @ Rs.14/unit comes to Rs.4200, which is enough to prove that common man will now be badly crushed by exorbitant hike in power tariff.

He said if the government is taking such measures under the influence of any foreign institution, the reasons for succumbing to such pressure should be disclosed.

He said government should always take business community and the civil society fully on board before taking such drastic steps. By taking the community at large in confidence, a more apt and acceptable method may have been adopted.

He said government should first put in place an effective mechanism to curb power theft, improve governance of power companies and cut huge transmission & distribution which reportedly account for 3750MW of electricity at peak load. Without plugging these big loopholes, hiking power tariff would prove to be a bigger incentive for power theft.

Shaban Khalid said we already have the highest tariff in the region as the regional average power price for industry is approximately Rs.9 per unit as compared to over Rs.14 per unit in Pakistan.

He stressed that government should also concentrate on the recovery of Rs.441 billion outstanding instead of shifting the burden to the common man. Given the new prices, small and medium sized industries would especially become economically unviable.

He also called for urgent removal of unjust discrimination in power tariff amongst provinces which has gone up by 58 percent in only three provinces and almost forcing industries there to close down.

This huge increase in power tariff for industry would badly affect our productivity and make us uncompetitive globally as how can our industry remain competitive at such a high price of electricity which is one of the basic industrial raw materials.