ISLAMABAD, July 18: Amid a sizeable increase in tariff for Karachi, the government on Wednesday decided to enhance supply of fuel to power plants in order to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity during Sahr and Iftar in the holy month of Ramazan.

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) approved Rs1.14 per unit and 52 paisa per unit increase in the tariff for Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) on account of expensive power generation during March and April, respectively.

A four-member Nepra bench presided over by acting chairman Ghiyasuddin Ahmad, however, did not say when the additional rates would be recovered from consumers, saying the matter would be resolved at the time of notifying the new tariffs.

During a public hearing, the Nepra members expressed their reservations over non-submission of results of the mandatory efficiency and heat rate tests by the KESC. It was unfair to the consumers to pass on to them the impact of any inefficiencies, particularly when both the indicators had an impact on consumer tariff, the members said.

They also assailed the KESC for getting the previous efficiency and heat rate tests conducted through unaccredited companies or those with poor international ranking.

The members also criticised the KESC management for keeping the relatively inefficient Bin Qasim thermal unit running instead of the efficient Gul Ahmad and Tapal power plants.

The KESC officials present conceded giving preference to the Bin Qasim plant over all others, but said this was largely because the utility had a limited capacity to pay other plants due to the circular debt problem.

The Nepra members said that problems like circular debt and inefficient plants could not be held out as reasons for increasing the consumer tariff.

Meanwhile, following a meeting at the Presidency on Wednesday, the ministry of petroleum and natural resources directed the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC) to enhance the supply of natural gas to the KESC by 52 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) to help it generate about 300MW of additional electricity, a senior government official said.

In return, the utility promised to ensure uninterrupted power supply to domestic and commercial consumers during Sahr, Iftar and Taraveeh throughout Ramazan.

The official said the SSGC was already providing about 200MMCFD of gas to KESC and the enhanced supplies would allow the utility to generate over 2,000MW.

The ministry of finance released Rs10 billion to ex-Wapda companies for onward payment to the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) for clearing a part of its foreign liabilities and to ensure that it continued supplying 28,000 tons of furnace oil to various power plants.

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