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Civil society grills K Electric before NEPRA over poor service delivery

ISLAMABAD (Eshfak Mughal): The Karachi based civil society and business community have grilled to the Karachi Electric (KE) over poor performance and noncompliance of the obligations of license and requested the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) to turn down the proposed increase Rs 10 per unit increase in electricity tariff.

The NEPRA held public hearing on the request of the Federal Govt for recommendation of Consumer End Tariff for K-Electric Ltd. and Application of Uniform Tariff for K-Electric Consumers by Way of Tariff Rationalization.

The Case Officer presented the case and informed the NEPRA Authority that the Ministry of Energy in the Motion has requested to apply periodic adjustments for the 2nd Quarter of the Fiscal Year 2022 23 for Discos of Rs.0.4689/kWh, on the consumers of K Electric in order to maintain uniform tariff across the country. The Ministry of Energy has requested to issue separate SoT for KE with prospective application of applicable uniform rates after incorporating tariff rationalization. The adjustment shall be applicable on the consumption of April, May and June 3023 to be recovered from consumers in Sept, Oct and Nov 2023 respectively.

The Ministry has also submitted Policy Guidelines for uniform application of quarterly adjustments on DISCOs and K Electric consumers. Based on the Policy Guidelines, the Ministry of Energy has requested NEPRA to reconsider its decision on 22nd May 2023 and accordingly issue separate SoT for KE with prospective application of applicable uniform rates after incorporating tariff rationalization requested in Motion on 17th March 2023 (Rs.1.487 to Rs.4.45/KWh for different consumer categories). The adjustment shall be applicable on the consumption of Feb and March 2023 to be recovered from consumers in Sept and Oct. The Federal Govt has requested that a hearing may be provided for the purpose of providing details submissions.

Further, during the hearing in the matter of 4th quarterly adjustment of DISCOs for the FY 2023, the Ministry of Energy has submitted to apply  the same on KE consumers as well in light of the afore referred policy guidelines.

The Member Baluchistan Mathar Niaz Rana raised serious questions on the request to increase the power tariff around Rs10 per unit for Karachies. He called horrible increase to the proposed increase by the government and KE and said that the consumer will not bear this increase in the electricity prices.

Rana further said that the economic activities are already slow down in the country and this proposed increase will hit the industrial sector as the electricity prices will go up to Rs.47 per unit for the industrial sector. He recommended to the KE to conduct study on the impact of the proposed increase on industrial sector. How the KE will handle the situation if the authority allow this increase as already the masses are burning the electricity bills.

On a query of the Voice of Public, he admitted that the tariff increase always surges risk of power theft and non compliance of bill payments and Rs.10 increase can also hit the bill collections.

The official from the Ministry of Energy said that quarterly increase is not being asked for first time. The decision of uniform tariff is of the Authority, He said that the proposed increase is only due to delay in quarterly adjustments. If these quarterly adjustments were allowed in time frame than we could save from this huge increase.

On this, Chairman NEPRA cautioned to the official and said that the selection of words should be carefully. The authority does not increase the electricity prices. We only allow increase in electricity prices only on the request of the government.

The KE presented the breakup of the its consumers and told the Authority that 1.2 million consumers received bills below from Rs 3000 and 518000 commercial consumers (60 percent) received bill below to Rs.6000 in Aug 2023.

During the public hearing, the trader community expressed grave concerns of the proposed increase in the electricity tariff. While taking part in the public hearing, the trades requested to the Authority not to approve the proposed increase.

“The high policy rate has created difficulties for traders and this increase will dent the business activities in the country. They claimed that the Power Division has taken decision to crush the business activities in Karachi. 30 percent steel industrial units have been closed in Karachi and this proposed increase will end the business in the business hub of the country”, he said.

The political leader from Karachi Hafiz Naeem U Rehman also took part in the public hearing and criticized on the performance of the KE and said that that the electricity supply company has been failed to implement on the promises which were made during getting license.

He said that the power tariff has vanished the middle class in the city and general public is not able to pay electricity bill. The burden of wrong doings of the KE should not put on the general public. The general public is not earning to pay the cost of failure and non compliance of the KE, he said.

Hafiz requested to the NEPRA and government dont provide subsidy to the KE, just give right to generate electricity. The electricity should be generated from the projects of the atomic energy. The NEPRA should cancel the license of KE as it is generating costly electricity.

The members of the civil society also trolled to the KE and challenged the facts and figures of the KE and claimed that they can give prove that the company is providing wrong data for getting increase in electricity prices.

The Authority has reserved the decision which will be announced in coming days.

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