Karachi Chamber stresses need to rationalize power tariff

Karachi Chamber stresses need to rationalize power tariff

The leadership of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Tuesday underscored the exorbitantly high electricity tariffs need to be rationalized as the suggested increased electricity tariffs would prove disastrous for trade, industry, SMEs and the public.

Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) Zubair Motiwala and President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Muhammad Idrees, while highly appreciating the Prime Minister for taking notice of public and business community’s complaints/ protests on inflated electricity bills.

In a joint statement, Chairman BMG and President KCCI said that the business community was grateful to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for taking cognizance of the electricity tariff but while we appreciate, we would like to apprise that the abnormal increase would actually prove to be a disaster for the industries, especially Small & Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) who are purely dependent on electricity and no alternate source including gas was available to these energy-starved SMEs.

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This country badly needs SMEs who must be promoted at any cost as it is a well-known fact that SMEs are the backbone of any country’s economy so supporting SMEs should be the highest priority of the government, they added.

They further opined that trade cannot absorb this kind of an exorbitant increase in electricity tariff and the commercial users will suffer badly hence it has to be rationalized. The increase had been suggested when the dollar rate jumped from Rs180 to more than Rs240 which was abnormal and due to foul play of exchange players but now as it has come down and was likely to descend further, therefore the increase in electricity tariff was not making any sense at all.

They mentioned that the Karachi Chamber along with Industrial Associations and all Chambers of Commerce of Pakistan were of similar opinion that exorbitant increase in electricity tariffs cannot be absorbed hence, we urge the Prime Minister that this needs a rational exercise and carefully looked into because it can prove to be fatal for many industries and would lead to enhancing unemployment across Pakistan while the exports will also suffer badly from this behest.”

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They also pointed out that although ECC approved electricity rate at US$9 cent per kWh to export-oriented sectors from August 1, 2022 but this decision was withdrawn which was an imprudent move as the cost of doing business in Pakistan was already too high as compared to regional competitors.

The government must keep in mind that during the last two months, the exports have been constantly decreasing hence, electricity rate at US$9 cents per kWh to export-oriented sectors must continue otherwise the country’s exports would keep on descending and create more problems for the economy particularly the rising unemployment.

While stressing the need to continuously support the exports, Zubair Motiwala and Muhammad Idrees requested that before issuance of any kind of notification, Prime Minister should look into this matter on an urgent basis so that the uncertainty which has been now triggered due to the electricity tariff hike announcement could come to an end.

They also appealed the Prime Minister to look into NEPRA matters as many decisions taken by NEPRA were purely against the consumers and in recent history, the regulator has never favored the consumers. Why is it that all the decisions taken by NEPRA favor DISCOs and KE only.

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This also needs to be seen and the recent decisions of charging FCA and bringing back the fixed charges, which were abolished long time ago but have been arbitrarily reintroduced, must also be deferred.

As consumers’ point of view was never being taken seriously at the so-called public hearing, Chairman BMG and President KCCI demanded that NEPRA rules must be redefined and out of NEPRA’s penal of three judges at the Public Hearings, one should be a representative of consumers through Chamber’s recommendation.

In the end, they reiterated that all actions taken by NEPRA should be remanded back and those in pipeline should also be stopped forthwith.

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