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LAHORE: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry's Businessmen Panel has resented the recent move of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) to jack up electricity rates, lifting average power tariff to Rs18.09 per unit, saying the decision will cause an additional burden of at least Rs90 billion on consumers.

FPCCI's Businessmen Panel Chairman Mian Anjum Nisar stated that the frequent increase in electricity cost and fuel prices on behest of the International Monetary Fund would not only make Pakistani products uncompetitive in the international market, but would also dent the Prime Minister's vision of lowering the cost of industrial production.

Condemning the government's move, he said the increase was being done to meet the conditions of the International Monetary Fund, terming the transfer of the cost of inefficiencies and transmission constraints of power distribution companies to the consumers as unfair. He said the increase in power and fuel prices will increase the cost of production for the industrial section which in turn will impact the ease of doing business and exports. This will ultimately hit the economy as envisioned by the Prime Minister, the FPCCI ex-chief maintained.

The BMP Chairman said that the recent price-hike was announced on the plea of a fuel price adjustment for the first, second and third quarters of the current and last fiscal years, putting an additional burden of billions of rupees on trade and industry.

Quoting the NEPRA's own reports, he revealed that an additional Rs193.49 billion was collected from consumers as a fuel price adjustment on the plea of higher costs of generating power during Jan-July 2021. He said that in May, electricity became cheaper by Rs0.26 per unit due to fuel price adjustment while in June it became cheaper by Rs0.19 per unit but consumers could barely get relief of Rs4.5 billion.

He maintained that the NEPRA had increased power tariff by Rs1.38 per unit for July 2021 under monthly fuel price adjustment mechanism, imposing an additional burden of Rs21 billion on consumers, which is very unfortunate.

He rejected the government's move of raising power cost, besides increasing rates of petroleum products twice a month to qualify for the revival of the stalled $6 billion IMF loan programme.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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