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Ministry has given new power tariff; cost of doing business will surge-reaction

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ISLAMABAD: Federal Secretary Ministry of Water and Power Ismail Qureshi on Wednesday clarified media reports about the increase in electricity tariff. “Media reports about 31 percent increase in electricity tariff are not correct,” he said. Rather, he added, 22 percent raise in power charges has been approved by the concerned quarters, PTV reported. Meanwhile, ministry sources told Pakistan Times that the increase in power tariff would not affect the low-income groups and the poor as the lifeline power consumers’ base has been increased to 100 units in a month.

“There are 17.7 million consumers of the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) and its eight distribution companies out of which about 7.7 million people fall under the lifeline consumers’ base (consuming 100 units a month) who will be exempted from the increase in power tariff,” the sources added.

The consumers who fall under the second slab which consumes upto 300 units a month will witness 35 paisa increase in tariff and will now pay Rs 4.43 per unit instead of Rs 4.08 per unit. The source said that those who use maximum power would have to pay according to the consumption, the sources added.

The sources said that the increase in tariff would encourage the consumers making excessive use of electricity to save power which would also help overcome load-shedding problem. It may be mentioned here that the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) had recommended 61 percent raise in power tariff which was turned down by the government and only 22 percent increase in power tariff was approved by the government keeping in view relief to the power and lower income groups.

In this regard Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Acting President FPCCI, Tufail M Zubair said that hike in power tariff would cause increase in cost of production that would eventually lead to cut in export orders and badly hamper industrial production in the country. He wa sof the view that ncrease in power tariff has created unrest among the industrial sector,especially the manufacturers already hard hit by high input costs including gas, petrol, electricity as well as weak Pak rupee against dollar. Vice President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Iftikhar Ali Malik said that the national economy will suffer further if immediate corrective measures are not taken to save the industry.

A sigh of relief for Pakistan is that Spokesman of Pakistan Electric Power Company, Tahir Bisharat Cheema has said that the investors have expressed their desire to invest in the energy sector to overcome country’s prevailing power crisis. He said huge investment was due in Pakistan in coal and wind plants in order to generate electricity while a private company has already begun work on Sindh Coal project. The work is in progress on new Hydel coal and wind projects for power generation, he said and added new power plants would generate 6000 mg electricity by year 2009. It will help reduce power crisis, said Cheema.

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