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Monday, March 27, 2023

Business community rejects power tariff hike

The country’s business community has demanded the government to cancel the hike in power tariffs as it reflects anti-business policy.

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Pakistan’s business community has lambasted the present government for the huge increase in electricity rates and has asked for immediate withdrawal of hike in the power tariffs. This persistent increase in the cost of electricity is bound to lower the demand for the Pakistani products in the international market, they said. They criticized the government for jacking up the electricity prices at a time when the population was already struggling to make ends meet due to the high prices of essential goods.

The latest increase in the power tariff of Discos and KE by Rs1.95 per unit is appalling being the cumulative impact of 3 consecutive huge increases in just 3 days calculated as Rs4.33 per unit under the guise of monthly fuel prices adjustments, quarterly tariff adjustments and base tariff adjustments.

According to financial analysts, these tariffs have worsened the burden of the common man. Despite gas shortage hampering life across the country, a record number of complaints against overbilling of the gas utility charges are adding to the miseries of the citizens.

The rapid increase in the prices of essential products is due to food security, astronomical increase in power tariff, massive surge in prices of POL products, overbilling and shortage of gas supply, conflicts and weather shocks. These rising food prices have caused a significant number of people to slip below the extreme poverty line, believe the analysts.

National Business Group chairman and Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum president Mian Zahid Hussain dubbed the continued power tariff hike a mini-budget which is unacceptable.

Power tariff hike by Rs1.95 per unit will be translated into over Rs4 per unit after the addition of taxes which will result in added pressure on the masses and the business community, he said.

Read More: PM Khan rejects hike in prices of petroleum products

The business community believes that Covid19 has already played havoc with the economy and the masses; therefore, the policy of continued hike in power tariff needs to be abandoned in order to provide maximum relief to the public.

Mian Zahid Hussain further said that this decision to increase power tariffs would hurt the country’s production, exports, employment and would result in inflation, which would reverse the recent gains on the economic front that were attained because of PM Khan’s initiatives.

Another Rs200 billion with Another power tariff hike worth Rs200 billion is also going to come into effect shortly as decided by IMF, stated Mian Zahid Hussain. High tariffs would result in power theft while the masses would have to bear the brunt of Rs200 billion.

Presently, the public is facing a twofold blow of petroleum price hike and power tariff hike, therefore, the business community has decided to dismiss any decision which avoids curbing line losses or doesn’t not guarantee theft control, said Mian Zahid. Around forty-six thousand cases of power theft have been registered but none of the offenders have been punished which points to the irresponsible attitude of the government, he added.