THE government and the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), apparently in association with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are increasing the power tariffs at will every now and then. This is being done to squeeze out the cash from the consumers to cover up for the inefficient power plants and transmission system the country has, resulting in higher losses for which the consumers are not to be blamed in any case.

Similarly, losses on account of power thefts are recovered from the consumers through monthly bills in the form of higher tariff. The situation is so bad that the subsidies given by the government to a certain category of consumers are also being recovered from those consuming electricity above a prescribed limit.

In other words, by increasing the tariff, they are protecting the inefficient and incompetent personnel who are running the inefficient power plants and a weak transmission system and the day-to-day misgovernance, which have all combined to escalate the cost of power production and its delivery to the end consumers.

Instead of punishing the inefficient, the incompetent and the corrupt, the government has opted for the easy way of passing the buck on to the consumers to make up for the losses for which the poor consumers are not responsible.

In a way, the government and Nepra are hand in glove while dealing with this problem of national importance and survival. Their action of raising the power tariff is tantamount to encouraging inefficiency and incompetence prevailing in the power sector.

The staff concerned goes scot-free and unaccountable, while the consumers are being punished for paying their electricity bills on time and regularly.

Unless the root causes of inefficiency and incompetence are addressed, the performance of the power sector and its related organs will never come up to the acceptable standards, and the power sector as a whole will keep nose-diving, taking the country down the spiral of backwardness and bankruptcy.

Riaz Bhutta
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2021

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