The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s Businessmen Panel (BMP) has condemned the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) to raise power tariff by Rs4.3 per unit in Jan-2022 bills, saying the burden of power theft, mismanagement and inefficiencies cannot be shifted on to the consumers on the plea of fuel adjustment.

FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel Chairman, Mian Anjum Nisar in a statement issued here on Saturday said that the high cost of doing business has proved to be dangerous for Pakistan’s industry, discouraging investment both in capacity and capability, calling for lessening the burden of heavy taxes on the power sector.

He asked the government to shut down all expensive oil-based power plants to ensure availability of cheaper energy for consumers. He lamented that the previous government did not pay heed to rehabilitation and maintenance of old power plants which caused several system constraints, inflicting heavy losses.

FPCCI former president said that the under-utilization of the efficient power plants due to the non-availability of RLNG can be avoided if the Ministry of Energy has timely assessed and managed the availability of RLNG. He asked the Ministry to play an active role in ensuring the supply of RLNG in a timely manner, so that it may not affect the operation of the efficient power plants. Thus, the inefficiencies of the power sector can be mitigated without passing it to the end consumers, he added.

This huge burden of cost on consumers is being put as the government could not arrange RLNG to run the plants. Owing to low supply of the imported gas, the less efficient plants were operated that generated costly electricity in the month of Nov 2021, which is not just, he added.

He said that the RLNG being the imported fuel can be managed through better supply chain management and accordingly impact of such mismanagement in the non-availability of RLNG cannot be passed on to the consumers, he argued.

Anjum Nisar said that constant hike in power tariff on the plea of fuel adjustment has pushed the electricity prices higher and added to the already soaring cost of trade and industry. Seeking the same competitive energy tariffs for domestic industries to capture the global market, he said that due to the high rates of electricity, power theft became rampant as the tariff was not affordable for the consumers.

While terming the increase in power tariff by Rs4.30 per unit as a shameful decision, he demanded of the government to withdraw the increase. The government’s decision to increase the power tariff by 4.30 rupees per unit is anti-industry act and the BMP strongly condemns dropping the electricity bomb on the poor masses and demands of the government to withdraw its decision. He urged the power ministry to identify system constraints and communicate targets to all the concerned departments to initiate up-gradation of transmission system on war footing. He called for completing all ongoing power projects well before time. He said production of hydel power has been increased while furnace oil price is constantly declining in the international markets. He said that business-friendly policies must be adopted as other neighboring countries of the region are giving to trade and industry.

The amount specified in trade policy should be utilized for the promotion of exports by giving incentives to the trade and industry and by exploring new markets, he suggested. The BMP Chairman said the electricity price in Pakistan is already on the higher side which is the main source of price-hike in the country. He said provision of cheap electricity will help reduce production cost which would provide relief to the public. He said rising imports and widening trade deficit has posed a serious threat to economic growth and required to be tackled on priority basis.

He endorsed recommendations of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, directing the government to include hydropower projects in the scope of renewable energy, as the country cannot afford to rely on costly and anti-environment fossil fuels.