It is really booth surprising and shocking that the
decision taken by the Federal Cabinet in the last week of February last
to reduce the power rates across the board has not so far been
Announcing the cabinet decision taken at a meeting
presided over by Prime Minister, Mir Zafarullalh Khan Jamali, the
spokesman of the Government of Pakistan Shaikh Rashid Ahmed announced at
a press conference on 28 February that the reduction in the power rates
which will be substantial would be effective w.e.f 01.03-2004.
Apparently WAPDA has failed to carry out the order without giving any
reason to the public.
Prices of utilities and essential commodities have
registered unprecedented increase over the past few years despite
comfortable economic situation. The persistent raise in the prices of
petrol, electricity, gas, kerosene, edible oil, mutton, beaf, pulses,
atta and vegetables has certainly rendered the common man's life
miserable as he is finding it hard to make the two ends meet. The price
hike coupled with lack of employment opportunities has certainly
contributed towards expansion of poverty in the country. Despite
projection of poverty alleviation strategy by the government, the plight
of the middle and lower middle segments of society has deteroirated as
is evident from increase in the poverty, which has risen to 32 percent
despite all rhetoric of economic turn around.
It was after a long wait that the government had
finally decided to provide some relief to suffering public by reducing
the power tariffs for domestic, industrial and agriculture consumers
from March 1, 2004.
According to the Information Minister, the cabinet
meeting appreciated the performance of WAPDA during the last seven
months as it has reduced the cost of the power generation by over Rs. 8
billion by switching over power generation to natural gas in some areas
and increasing the hydel power generation by realizing its optimum
potential. It has also reduced its line losses by another two percent
during this period. The cabinet, however, directed WAPDA authorities to
modernize their system providing checks in order to further cut down the
line losses which were still higher as per world standard. With
employment of a better technology and improved management line losses
could be reduced considerably.
Although the details of the power tariff reduction
pattern were yet to be announced by the government, yet the decision in
principle was highly welcome. It was hoped that reduction will be
substantial especially for the domestic consumers, because the common
man is under tremendous economic pressure due to the utilities' charges,
which are, practically, highest level of poverty as well as the mounting
cost of living. It has become impossible for the poor to make his both
ends meet in the given situation of price hike.