Power tariff relief for agricultural consumers

ISLAMABAD: The government suspended on Wednesday a notification under which power distribution companies charged around 80,000 tube-wells at the rate of Rs6.75 per unit instead of the normal Rs4 per unit applicable to agricultural consumers.

Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said at a press conference that the distribution companies of Pakistan Electric Power Company had issued bills to 80,000 agricultural consumers at Rs6.75 per unit because they had not installed time-of-day (TOD) meters before the deadline set by Nepra.

However, the decision was withdrawn on prime minister’s instructions in view of the hardship being faced by farmers at a time when paddy cultivation was in progress.

He said such consumers would now be charged at normal rate of Rs4 per unit, but appealed to them to immediately install time-of-day meters and avoid using tube-wells between 7 and 11pm.

The minister said there were 201,000 tube-wells under the Pepco system. About 120,000 consumers were using time-of-day meters and hence charged at Rs3.42 per unit, except for the 7-11 pm period when they are charged at Rs4 per unit.

Around 80,000 consumers have not installed TOD meters and they were charged at Rs6.75 per unit during the current month.

Responding to a question, the minister said that the inter-corporate circular debt of about Rs100bn was still outstanding, although the government had taken over about Rs300 billion through a holding company.

He said the cost of electricity service stood at Rs8.21 per unit but consumers were currently being charged at Rs5.40 per unit which was causing in an annual fiscal gap of about Rs150 billion.

This issue was being addressed through a combination of measures — increase in electricity tariff under agreement with international lenders, injection of public money as subsidy and efficiency improvement.

Mr Ashraf said that mud-slinging against rental power projects had affected their implementation schedule, but some of them with a capacity of about 800 megawatts would start producing electricity in December.

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