Centre miffed at Sindh plans to waive power bills

Updated Apr 10 2020

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Sindh govt had proposed to waive energy bills for less that 260 unit consumption; centre decries trespassing of domain. Reuters/File
Sindh govt had proposed to waive energy bills for less that 260 unit consumption; centre decries trespassing of domain. Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government reacted strongly to a law proposed by the Sindh government to provide economic relief to its people and warned the provincial government not to trespass the centre’s domain.

An official said the provincial government had proposed an ordinance to waive full electricity bills with monthly consumption of less than 260 units and for gradual discount for higher consumption to provide relief to consumers within its service territories. Two distribution companies owned by the federal government, namely Sukkur Electric Supply Company and Hyderabad Electric Supply Company, besides private entity K-Electric, fall under Sindh’s territories.

A statement issued by the Power Division after consultations with the Prime Minister Office and the Ministry of Law criticised the “proposed draft ordinance by the government of Sindh”.

“Bills for electricity and gas supplied by federal entities are in the federal domain and the provincial government cannot legislate upon such subjects”, said the Ministry of Energy.

It said the federal government was fully cognisant of the difficulties arising for common consumers because of Covid-19 lockdowns and had taken appropriate steps, including instalments, for all consumers up to 300 units of electricity for three months and three monthly installments for gas bills up to Rs2,000.

In addition to relief in the energy sector, the federal government has launched Ehsas Programme that will give Rs12,000 to 12 million eligible families that will transfer Rs144 billion to deserving people, the statement said, adding Prime Minister Imran Khan had instructed the Ministry of Finance to give a relief package of several hundred billions of rupees for welfare of deserving citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If the Sindh government wants to provide additional relief to the people of Sindh it should do so using it’s own resources,” the ministry said. “The federal government has asked the Sindh government not to take any unconstitutional step,” it added.

The federal government would continue to extend installments facility for such utilities as long as necessary, the Power Division said.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2020