Contrary to the expectations that the government
may reduce electricity charges, a three paisa raise has been allowed
to WAPDA while a move by KESC for an increase of 14-paisa is also in
line which will also likely to be given a go ahead by the
government.Leaving aside the juggling of the figures, the electricity
consumers in the layman's language are paying around Rs9 per unit if
the units consumed in a month divide the total amount of the
According to the details of a monthly bill, the
KESC issued a bill of Rs3100 for 362 units consumed. The amount of
Rs3100 includes Rs2686.24 for electricity charges, Rs15 for meter
rent, Rs43 electricity duty Rs350 Income Tax, however the amount of
Rs412 under GST regime has been adjusted.
The exorbitant electricity charges are
self-explanatory of the unaffordable price level for the people with
average income of Rs5000 a month in this country. This also clarifies
why the power theft level is so high in Pakistan.
Although the policy makers claim to have given
relief to the low-income group consuming electricity up to 50 units a
month which sounds a funny proposition. Even if a consumer uses only
two bulbs or tube lights and a fan in his house, he will cross the
slab of 50 units any time, what does it make sense to allow lower
tariff for 50 unit consumers. One Television set, a Fridge, washing
machine and an Iron are the necessities of the modest living and not
the luxuries. If the policy makers are convinced with this point of
view, they should decide how a consumer on earth could adjust his
electricity consumption within the limit of 50 units. There are strong
recommendations of the people that the lowest slab for the low-income
group should be fixed at 300-unit slab if the government was really
serious in its priorities for poverty reduction from the society.
In fact, it is not the electricity charges but the
government levies and taxes which are responsible for taking the
electricity charges beyond the reach of the general consumers.
Recently, Gazi Barotha yet another hydel power project was put in
operation. It was revealed by an engineer of the project that per unit
cost of the new project was estimated at paisa 53 per cent. At present
about 30 per cent of the total electricity generated under WAPDA
system was hydel and the remaining 70 per cent produced under thermal
system involving oil-fired system. Obviously, the cost of oil-fired
system is much higher than then the hydel power but not to that extent
that the power generating companies should charge around Rs9 per unit.
There should be some rationale so that not only the social life but
also the economic life of the country could face the forthcoming
onslaught of the foreign made goods under WTO regime. The government
will have to take steps for bringing down the electricity rates at an
affordable level in the larger national interest.
Although the government has set up a committee to
look into the ways and means for bringing down the electricity rates,
yet it has not come up with the expectations of the people so far.
The decision for increase in tariff has come after
approval from the Prime Minister on the determination of National
Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) issued on July 22.
Earlier, the government's instruction to Tariff
Rationalization Committee (TRC) to finalize proposal on the tariff
reduction had raised hopes of the electricity consumers for a
reduction in power tariffs, however, the hopes were marred with the
increase in power tariffs. The government had constituted a 15-member
TRC in June this year. The decision of the constitution of a committee
was taken on May 12 on the directives of Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah
Khan Jamali in an Inter-ministerial meeting presided over by Federal,
Water and Power Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao.
The TRC after the passage of about seven week time
has presented its recommendations to the minister, but they were given
another six weeks time for the final report.
Currently, the government is using the utility
services like power companies WAPDA, KESC, PTCL, SSGCL, SNGPL etc, as
the tax collecting agencies. The annual profits of these companies are
enough to substantiate this statement. According to WAPDA Chief, his
organization collected around Rs26 billion taxes during the financial
year 2002-03. This gives an impression that the utility services are
more interested in revenue collection instead of providing utility
services to the consumers. The worst hit segment of the society was
the salaried class of the high electricity or telephone charges. On
one hand, they are paying the income tax at source, while they are
subjected to double taxation on the other hand when they have to pay
income tax on electricity bills also. If this was the lacuna in the
system it should be removed at the earliest to give relief to the
salaries class. The electricity rates can be reduced reasonably if the
policy makers evolve reasonable and effective taxation policies
through direct taxation system instead of treating the poor and the
rich at par through indirect taxation system by using different
utility services and other government departments for revenue