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ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Power on Thursday granted powers to Federal Government to impose surcharge at the rate of 10 per cent of total revenue as per requirement of power sector as a condition of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This Bill titled "The Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (amendment) Bill, 2021” has already been approved by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Power.

The Senate had referred the Bill to the Committee on June 15, 2021 for consideration and a report. Contrary to Senate Committee, National Assembly Standing Committee on Power discussed the Bill threadbare and compelled Power Division to alter the Bill. The government has already promulgated an Ordinance as an interim arrangement, agreed with the IMF and filed a petition with Nepra to impose a surcharge of Rs 1.25 per unit on domestic consumers, using above 700 units per month and some other categories. The government is expecting Rs 700 million through surcharge of Rs 1.25 per unit to bridge the gap in payments to the IPPs.

According to Secretary Power, Ali Raza Bhutta, the purpose of amendment in the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power is to fix uniform tariff across the country.

The committee which met with Senator Saif Ullah Abro in the chair also discussed the issues related to Karachi Electric (KE). A few members were not happy with the KE's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Moonis Alvi for allegedly not taking their calls. Chairman Nepra's absence from the meeting was also noted with concern.

On a question from Senator Fida Muhammad if uniform tariff will be applicable in the jurisdiction of KE, Secretary Power replied that KE is a private company, adding that presently 1100MW electricity is being supplied to KE from the national grid, which will be enhanced to 2050MW by 2023.

Secretary Power maintained that the government has earmarked a Rs 54 billion subsidy for supply of electricity to domestic consumers using up to 300MW monthly so that their tariff is equal throughout the country.

CEO KE informed the committee that presently the power utility's generation stood at 1780MW and an additional 900MW electricity is to be added to the system from the new power plant.

Senator Fida Muhammad maintained that KE is being supplied electricity from the national grid sans any agreement, prompting CEO KE to state that new Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for supply from national grid will be signed soon.

Sharing views on KE's affairs, Minister for Energy, Hammad Azhar, said that KE is not getting electricity in accordance with its requirements, adding that the new PPA with KE will be inked in a month’s time.

Azhar added that Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city and its electricity requirement is also more. He pledged to meet KE's growing demand.

Senator Asad Junejo, who hails from interior Sindh, argued that Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) should not punish all its consumers for “a few” not paying bills.

Secretary Power informed the committee that the Kunda system exists in Charsada and a few areas serviced by Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) . The losses of Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco) are Rs 70 billion per annum.

The Minister for Energy stated that one of the reasons for the circular debt is theft, adding that agriculture tube wells of Balochistan are being shifted to solar system.

He said load-shedding is being done on those feeders where losses are 70 per cent and more, adding that a modern system will be installed to curb theft. Azhar told the committee that Rs 100 billion has been allocated in the budget to improve transmission system and claimed that average system losses have also been reduced by 2 per cent – to 15 per cent from 17 per cent.

The minister maintained that Hesco and Sepco employees who were recruited on the basis of political affiliations will be transferred to other Discos.

The Chairman Standing Committee, who is said to have significant political differences with the PPP, stated that electricity thieves in Sindh are powerful which is why they are not caught

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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