KARACHI: Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali has said that the National Electric and Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) will take up the issue of the Rs3 cut in power tariff with the K-Electric (KE) in the first week of next month.

The minister was responding to a complaint raised by industrialists about the non-implementation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s directives for a cut in power tariff by Rs3 per unit that became effective from Jan 1, 2016, all over the country except in areas being supplied power by KE.

Speaking at a dinner on Monday organised by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FPCCI) Standing Committee on Customs, the minister assured that the disparity would be removed once Nepra took up the issue with KE.

He said that the regulatory body had already scheduled a meeting with KE to discuss the matter and expressed the hope that once the issue was resolved, Karachi-based industries would not have to pay the extra Rs3 per unit and would come at par with other industries in the country.

When the incumbent government took over in 2013, he said, only 13,400MW of power was available which mandated load shedding of up to 20 hours a day. Through prudent measures and cuts in power thefts and line losses, power generation was raised to 16,900MW, which reduced load shedding throughout the country, he said.

The minister said that by August, power generation would be enhanced to 18,000MW and by March next year, the country would be free of load shedding as a large number of coal-fired and LNG power plants would become operational.

The government is working at a fast pace on power projects and two coal-run power plants at Port Qasim with a capacity of 660MW each are expected to be completed in a record time of 18 months, he added.

The Nandipur power plant, the minister said, was approved by the PPP government but due to delays, the cost of construction escalated manifold. He added that it had now started injecting 425MW into the national grid. Work on several hydropower projects is also ongoing, he said.

Responding to complaints raised by business leaders regarding the non-availability of water for Karachi-based industries, the minister said that the federal government had given Rs22 billion to the provincial government for the K-IV project. Furthermore, a Green Line bus service is also being developed in Karachi by the federal government, he said.

The business leaders complained that they had to purchase stolen water for millions of rupees to run their industries which enhanced their costs and made their products unviable in the world market.

To this, the minister said that voters who had placed such a government in the province were responsible for the situation.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2016