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Friday, March 1, 2024

Approaching SC for skyrocketed electricity bills

The petition stated that in recent days, electricity customers in several cities around the country have come to the streets to protest the FPA and other charges in their bills, as their payables had risen to an unsustainable level for them.

There are countrywide protests by the public against skyrocketed electricity bills. On Wednesday, a local lawyer petitioned in the Supreme Court (SC), requesting that the federal government either remove or lower the Fuel Price Adjustment (FPA) taxes and other charges from electricity bills.

Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court granted permission to several petitioners to pay only the July electricity bill, eliminating the FPA payment.

While acting pro bono publico, advocate Zulfikar Ahmed Bhutto petitioned the Supreme Court to draw its notice to the massive bills that electricity providers had sent to consumers in July and August.

The petition stated that in recent days, electricity customers in several cities around the country have come to the streets to protest the FPA and other charges in their bills, as their payables had risen to an unsustainable level for them.

Read more: Widespread protests against skyrocketing electricity bills

It also highlighted that the customers were burning their bills during protests held regularly in different cities and raising slogans against the authorities. Protestors are in complete denial of paying their bills, demanding immediate withdrawal of the FPA and other taxes, and the issuance of fresh electricity bills by the power distribution companies.

The petition expressed disappointment that, rather than implementing people-friendly policies, the government was imposing enormous taxes on poor power consumers, causing significant discomfort in the lives of even the middle class.

In a situation where making ends meet had already become hard for families due to rising inflation, the massive FPA and other taxes in electricity bills had broken people’s backs, according to the petition, highlighting that the majority of people are laborers earning Rs15,000 to Rs20,000 per month and trying to survive in rented houses in poor areas.

Apparently, these strict measures resulting in skyrocketing bills are the consequences of pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). On the other hand, government was expanding service benefits for officials who already received substantial salaries in the millions, such as free fuel, house rents, and medical facilities.

According to the petition, the Punjab government recently enhanced benefits for the lower judiciary, while taxes were levied on the poor.