Dark summer ahead as generators, UPS become costlier

Published March 12, 2023
A mechanic busy in repairing the power generator.– APP (File Photo)
A mechanic busy in repairing the power generator.– APP (File Photo)

KARACHI: With power outages set to return during the peak summer season, consumers should be prepared to spend hours in darkness as prices of alternate power solutions have more than doubled in the last year.

This was a direct result of the State Bank’s decision to curb imports of raw material and finished goods to control the current account deficit, according to the dealers. The move has proved to be a disaster for generator importers as well as the local industry.

The two major alternate power solutions for residential consumers are generators and UPS, powered by batteries, both witnessing significant price hikes.

According to dealers in Karachi’s F.B. Area, a 50-ampere battery now costs Rs10,000-11,000, while a 200-ampere battery carries a price tag of Rs42,000-44,000, a jump of almost 100 per cent over a year.

“Prices have gone up since the PDM government came into power,” a dealer told Dawn, adding that “the prices of used batteries have also surged.”

Dealers say import curbs led to price hike; Indus Motor increases rates again

“A used 60-ampere battery now costs Rs3,000-3,500,” he said, recalling that the price was Rs2,000 a year back.“

The dealer also complained of the lack of government oversight on the manufacturers who are jacking up the prices on various pretexts.

The government should check whether the prices are being raised for genuine reasons or not, the dealer added.

He also had bad news for consumers mulling to buy dry batteries, as their prices have witnessed more or less the same jump.

According to numbers, the net sales of Atlas Battery Limited, one of the largest battery manufacturers in Pakistan, increased from Rs20 billion to Rs25bn last year.

The net sales of another manufacturer, Exide Pakistan, during the half-yearly period ending September 30, 2022, rose by 29pc to Rs 10bn from Rs 7.9bn in the same period a year ago.

The company’s profit after tax also jumped to Rs221m from Rs34m.

The curb on imports has caused the same problems for generator suppliers.

“We have been waiting for the State Bank since July 2022 to allow the import of generators. The restriction has created quite a lot of problems for the genuine importers,” said Sikandar Shahzada, who sells generators at Karachi’s Shahrah-i-Liaquat.

The price of good-quality Chinese brand 2KVA, 3KVA and 6KVA generators has swelled from Rs72,000-75,000, Rs85,000 and Rs180,000-190,000 to Rs100,000-115,000, Rs125,000 and Rs270,000, respectively, as compared to last year. A 20 KVA Chinese generator is now priced at Rs1.25m as compared to Rs 0.85m in the preceding year.

With power outages infrequent during the winter season on the back of low demand, consumers are largely unaware of this price hike.

As load-shedding will intensify, the inflation-hit consumers will realise they can only dream about generators and not buy them, Mr Shahzada said.

“I do not think that people with limited purchasing power and the rising cost of living will ever think of buying costly generators even if load-shedding takes its toll in summer.”

Mr Shahzada added that UPS are also now “out of reach” for the masses as a good quality battery (20-30 ampere) now costs Rs5,500 compared to Rs3,000 a year ago.

When asked why PBS figures show a meagre import of generator imports ($332m) in the July-January period compared to one billion dollars in the same period last fiscal, Mr Shahzada claimed the private sector has not imported machines since July 2022.

“These imports are made by the operators of public sector projects,” he added.

The prices of machines are not the only headache for consumers. The fuel needed to run them is also escaping the ambit of affordability.

Hike in car prices

Indus Motor Company (IMC), one of the largest car manufacturers, has once again hiked the prices, this time on the pretext of the general sales tax rise from 18pc to 25pc on vehicles of 1,400cc and above.

The new prices announced after the hike also factored in the impact of volatile exchange rate.

Its cars, Toyota Yaris 1.3MT LO, CVT LO, MT Hi, CVT Hi, 1.5 MT and 1.5 CVT will now cost Rs4.449m, Rs4.789m, Rs4.759m, Rs4.999m, Rs5.329m and Rs5.769m.

Toyota Corolla 1.6 MT, CVT, CVT SR, 1.8 CVT, CVT SR and CVT SR BLK now carry a price tag of Rs6.169m, Rs6.769m, Rs7.429m, Rs7.119m, Rs7.759m and Rs7.799m.

The prices of various models of Revo and Hilux prices have surged by Rs 295,000 to Rs 1.5m.

The price of Fortuner LO Petrol, High Petrol, Diesel and Legender prices have been raised from Rs14.230m, Rs16,297m, Rs17.175m and Rs18.112m, to Rs15.809m, Rs18.099m, Rs19.079m and Rs20.129m, respectively.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2023

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