Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday took strict notice of public complaints on inflated electricity bills and directed authorities to submit an urgent report and recommendations over the matter. Chairing a meeting in Islamabad, the premier instructed officials concerned to submit a detailed report with recommendations regarding public complaints on electricity bills on priority basis.
“Khadim-e-Pakistan is answerable to his people for resolution of their grievances. I am committed to speaking truth to my people,” he said. Federal Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir, Special Assistant to PM Ahad Cheema and relevant senior officers attended the meeting. The development comes after scores of people in several parts of the country took to the streets in protest against inflated power bills of both domestic and industrial connections.
Last week, farmers of several villages in Punjab blocked the motorways for traffic for hours, chanting slogans against the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco). The protesters were carrying electricity bills, demanding that the government issue bills according to the units consumed. Last month, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) allowed distribution companies to charge an additional Rs155 billion to compensate for the higher fuel generation cost in June.
Nepra allowed unprecedented fuel cost adjustments (FCA) of Rs11.37 to Karachi power utility K-Electric and Rs9.89 per unit to electricity distribution companies previously owned by Wapda, or Discos. The higher electricity rates would be charged to all consumers in the billing month of August, except those whose monthly power consumption is fewer than 50 units. Earlier, the government had also announced an increase of Rs7.91 per unit in average base tariff across the country in three phases starting with effect from July. It had approved Rs1.55 per unit increase in base tariff across the country under a quarterly adjustment.
A Dawn editorial on July 25 had warned that the new electricity prices would unleash a new round of hyper-inflation in the country. “The crippling increase of Rs7.91 per unit in power prices, which boosts the national average electricity tariff to Rs24.82 per unit from the existing Rs16.91, from July, is just one of several unpopular decisions — that include the reversal of fiscally unsustainable fuel subsidies and the imposition of massive taxes in the budget — the government has taken in order to obtain dollars from the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral and bilateral creditors,” it had said.