ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Miftah Ismail has criticised the government’s decision to increase power tariff by Rs1.95, and putting a burden of Rs200 billion on the consumers.
He said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had increased the rates due to a rise in the country’s circular debt.
“We left circular debt at Rs1,036 billion – this included electricity deficit and bank loans. Under Imran Khan, the figure has exceeded Rs2,400 billion and it grows by Rs50 to Rs60 billion per month due to expensive power generation,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
Miftah Ismail said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had raised electricity prices soon after assuming office in an attempt to stop the circular debt from increasing. “Annually, the circular debt is increasing by Rs600 billion which is mostly due to losses incurred in transmission and distribution of electricity.”
“When the PML-N came to power, the electricity wastage was recorded at 21 percent. We reduced it to 18 percent and now the current government has again raised it to 19 percent,” he said, adding that the electricity wastage was costing the national exchequer a loss of Rs15 billion on average.
The former finance minister claimed the average collection of electricity bills stood at 93 percent during the PML-N’s tenure but dropped to 80 percent during the PTI’s tenure as the country was hit by the coronavirus pandemic last year.
He said, “At present, the electricity bills collection stands at 88 percent.”
He claimed the PTI government was not complying with the Nepra merit order and a five percent recovery rate was also causing losses.
The former finance minister criticised the PTI government’s decision to generate power from expensive power plants instead of opting for cheaper options, and slammed the delay in ordering LNG supply.
He said the PTI government was generating electricity from expensive sources: furnace oil and diesel.
“Last summer, they made 280 million units of electricity from diesel costing Rs18 per unit, and five billion from furnace oil costing Rs13. One unit of electricity generated from LNG and natural gas costs about Rs6 or less,” he said.
The former minister said the PML-N government had generated more than 11,000 megawatts of electricity and planned to increase the generation.
“On one hand, the PTI government says there is power surplus and on the other, they are establishing new power plants. The PML-N government left power consumption increasing by 10 percent but the incumbent government has “wrecked” the economy leading to a decrease in consumption.”
Miftah claimed that the people had applied for 3,000MW connections but the government was not issuing them.
He urged the government to close down 50-year-old power plants running on furnace oil.
He said that the commodity benefitted few and was causing great loss to the country.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021