LAHORE: Provincial governments can bear the cost of Fuel Price Adjustment (FPA) to provide relief to the electricity consumers in a situation when both the dollar-rupee parity and the international oil prices have hit through the roof, said power sector experts.
They said the government of the Indian Punjab had already managed free-of-cost electricity supply to the tube-well consumers by bearing the cost in the state budget. Also, they have mentioned the “Roshan Gharana Programme” of former Punjab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz, offering free electricity to households consuming up to 100 units by bearing the power cost. Under the programme, nine million households or 550 million people of the province would benefit from the relief and the government had reserved Rs 100 billion for it.
According to them, the provinces have become more autonomous after the 18th amendment and they can budget the FPA cost to give relief to consumers. So far as the federal government is concerned, they said, it should bear the cost in the federal territory while persuading the provincial governments to follow the suit and provide relief to consumers.
The country has entered to the “impossibility of implementation” stage and demands a revisit of the FPA policy, said one former employee of Pakistan electric power company (Pepco). It may be noted that the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has been authorized to determine tariff under Section 7 of the Generation, Transmission & Distribution of Electric Power Act, 1997 (hereinafter referred to as, “the Act”). Also to charge the fuel adjustment charges in view of the proviso added to Section 31 (4) through the Finance Act of 2008, according to the legal experts, was only a money bill and under the garb of money bill such provision could not have been promulgated which is a violation of Articles 153, 154 and 157 of the Constitution.
Power sector sources said the impact of the FPA was very meager due to affordable dollar-rupee parity and oil prices back in 2009 when the FPA was charged from the consumers. However, both the factors have hit through the roof now but the power sector regulator is still adamant to charge it from the consumers while the political governments are doing nothing but cutting sorry figures.
According to them, the irony of the situation could be gauged from the fact that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced withdrawal of FPA up for the consumers consuming 200 units, which was later switched with 300 units while he was on an official tour to Qatar. However, the federal finance minister appeared before the media a few days later and claimed that the FPA has not been withdrawn, but deferred by the government and it would be received in the electricity bills in future bills. They said the silence of the prime minister on what the finance minister has said is not understandable, as how the finance minister can deviate from what the prime minister had announced publicly.
Meanwhile, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) has released a video message on Monday, claiming to provide a relief of over Rs 6 billion to three million consumers of the company under the FPA.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022