The local business community, in a meeting at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI), strongly protested against the inflated bills of Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) for the month of August 2014 and called upon the government to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter as many citizens are unable to pay excessive bills.
ICCI President Shaban Khalid said that throughout the world, utility services tariffs are determined keeping in view the purchasing power of citizens, but in Pakistan the power tariffs have gone far beyond the paying capacity of a common man.
Quoting an example, he said one sweeper of ICCI Rehmat Masih, drawing monthly salary of Rs 16,000, has received electricity bills of Rs 18,863 for August 2014 while he uses only few lights, fans, fridge and water pumping motor on electricity. Masih’s average electricity consumption during the last 12 months was 428 units with bill of August 2013 of Rs 5,142.
With almost 200 percent increase in electricity bills, one wonders how people could meet monthly expense of their families after paying such huge amounts of power bills. It seems the decision makers have no concern with the problems of a common man who is being pushed towards severe stress. It has also been observed that many extra charges/surcharges have been added to the bills which are unjustified.
He said excessive electricity bills not only make the life of common man extremely miserable, they also create lot of problems for business and industry as they result into huge increase in cost of production that eventually hampers industrial growth, hurts exports and puts unbearable burden on the economic growth. He said that about 30 to 35 percent billing was being done in a presumptive manner, which is a great injustice to the nation.
He said the current government has made massive increase in power tariff so far due to which our exports have become uncompetitive in international market. He said federal minister for water and power has already admitted in writing on the floor of the House that electricity charges in Pakistan are higher in the region and added that making further increase in power tariffs in such scenario is beyond understanding.
Khalid said businessmen have been demanding for reduction in power tariffs to facilitate the growth of business activities, but instead the government has opted to further increase electricity rates. This situation will not only discourage new investment and industrialization in the country, it will also hit our exports and decrease employment opportunities.
The ICCI president said hike in power tariffs also leads to increase in power theft and receivables, which ultimately brings more problems to the power sector. He stressed that government should focus on maximum exploitation of hydro energy source, which provides the cheapest energy as it costs just Rs 0.08/Kwh as compared Rs 18.25/Kwh from furnace oil and Rs 5.58/Kwh from gas respectively.