LAHORE: Protest demonstrations against the fuel price adjustment (FPA) and other taxes on the electricity bills that shocked most of the consumers this month continued in Lahore and other cities of the province on Tuesday.

The protesters burnt the electricity bills during the demonstrations and pledged not to deposit the payments until immediate withdrawal of the FPA and other taxes and issuance of new bills to them by the power distribution companies.

They gathered at various places in Lahore while the local PTI leaders joined some of the protests and criticised the federal government for crushing the people under the huge power bills.

“Do whatever you want as we will not pay the bills till withdrawal of FPA charges and other unnecessary taxes. This all (FPA, taxes etc) has doubled our bills, making us unable to pay,” an angry protester said at a demonstration on the Abbott Road.

PTI leaders, JI chief join demos; M-4 interchange blocked in Toba

Punjab Minister for Energy Dr Akhtar Malik also joined a protest reportedly at Manga Mandi.

“This government is killing the poor people by imposing heavy taxes that we will not bear at all,” he announced while speaking on the occasion.

The consumers, including women and children, were of the view that the inflated bills had disturbed their routine life.

“If we pay these bills, it means we have nothing to spend for day-to-day affairs of our home,” said a protester who added that the situation was worse for those living in rented houses.

The protesters also reached the Queens Road and staged demonstrations outside the offices of the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco). They demanded the government withdraw the FPA and other major taxes included in the bills.

A number of protesters also gathered at an intersection in the area of Wali Park (Fatehgarh) near Tajpura. They burnt the bills.

“We are using less electricity and only run fans and fewer bulbs but we have received bills of more than Rs20,000. A major chunk of the bill along with electricity cost is the FPA and the GST that we will not pay,” said a protester while talking to the media.

“Since we are already hardly fulfilling our food needs, how can we pay such huge bills? Those earning Rs30,000 per month have received bills of Rs15,000 and above. In such a situation, how these consumers can pay the massive bills?” another protester asked.

The demonstrators warned the government to either withdraw the FPA, taxes etc or be ready to face more protests.

SAHIWAL: Hundreds of farmers, shopkeepers, small traders, citizens and daily-wage labourers held a protest near village Bunga Hayat on the Multan-Kasur Road against, what they termed, the unfair surcharges in the electricity bills and blocked the road for two hours for the second consecutive day on Thursday.

The protesters were carrying placards and electricity bills as they raised charged slogans against the federal government and the Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco). Many of them tore electricity bills and some burnt them, in a gesture to refuse to pay the bills. They termed the induction of huge fuel price adjustment (FPA) surcharges in the name of ‘adjustment’ unfair, which were beyond the capacity of ordinary electricity customers. The protesters also burnt tyres and stopped the traffic for all public and private vehicles for two hours.

Muhammad Jameel, a resident of Bangla Hayat, told the media, “I earn Rs800 to Rs1,000 as a daily-wage labourer, how can I pay Rs12,000 bills in which 55pc is adjusted as the FPA charges.”

He asked whether he should buy groceries and pay the fees for his children’s school or submit a huge bill.

The protesters expressed the resolve that they won’t pay electricity bills because of huge taxes. The protesters said if the government won’t withdraw taxes on electricity bills, they would not pay any bills at all. They dispersed after two hours.

On Monday, a protest was held at Chak 32/SP and outside the Mepco office in Pakpattan city.

TOBA TEK SINGH: Hundreds of citizens blocked the Gojra-Jhang Road near Dhamma Canal rest house by setting tyres ablaze and staging a demonstration against the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco) over high tariff electricity bills. They also blocked the M-4 interchange.

PTI leader Usama Hamza also reached there to express solidarity with the protesters.

In his speech, he announced if the raised tariff was not withdrawn, the consumers would besiege the Fesco office on a daily basis.

In another demonstration, scores of residents from more than a dozen villages blocked traffic on the Toba-Gojra Road near Janiwala Railway Station in protest against Fesco for sending them inflated domestic and commercial electricity bills. They placed barriers on the road and also set tyres on fire, putting the traffic out of gear for several hours.

MUZAFFARGARH: Jamaat-i-Islami emir Sirajul Haq says the rulers are engaged in personal quarrels and the president, the prime minister and the chief ministers have no time to visit the flood-affected areas.

“Under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), huge bills are being collected by imposing 11 types of taxes on electricity bills. If the taxes on electricity bills are not abolished, the JI would besiege Mepco office in Multan after a week,” he said.

Mr Haq was addressing a sit-in of the JI held in front of the Muzaffargarh Press Club against the taxes and inflated electricity bills.

JI Punjab President Rao Zafar Iqbal, district emir Rana Umar Daraz Farooqui, Rana Muhammad Afzal, Prof Iftikhar Ahmad Hashmi, Malik Muhammad Ramzan Rohri and a large number of people were present.

Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2022

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