PESHAWAR: Residents of the provincial capital on Thursday moved the Peshawar High Court against multiple taxes and duties in electricity bills and free electric supply to government employees.
In the joint petition, chairman of the Pakhtunkhwa Qaumi Jirga Khalid Ayub and 20 other residents requested the court to declare illegal the imposition of multiple taxes, duties and fees in electricity bills by distribution companies (Discos).
They also prayed the court to declare unlawful the introduction of multiple slabs with different prices for the purpose of calculating the monthly consumption bills and also that of the ‘peak and off-peak hours’ and unilateral repeated changes therein.
The petitioners also provided a table containing the number of free units provided free of charge to different categories of government employees, especially Disco/Wapda employees from BPS-1 to BPS-22.
Residents also request court to declare free power supply to officials illegal
They insisted that an employee in BPS-21 and BPS-22 was entitled to consume 1,300 electricity units per month free of charge, 1,100 to that of BPS-20, 880 to that of BPS-19, 600 to that of BPS-18 and 450 to that of BPS-17.
They have requested the court to declare as illegal the supply of free electricity to the government employees of Discos/Wapda.
They have also challenged the growing increase in line losses and its recovery from the consumers.
The petition is filed through senior lawyer Ameenur Rehman Yousafzai.
Respondents in the petition are the federal government through secretary of the establishment division (cabinet division), secretary of the ministry of energy and power, Wapda through its chairman, National Finance Commission through its chairman, National Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) through its chairman, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through its chief secretary, and Power Planning and Monitoring Company through its chief executive officer.
In the petition, the residents gave details of the production of hydel, thermal, nuclear, wind, solar and bagasse electricity.
They said that the total capacity during the fiscal year 2021-22 for generation of electricity in the country was 43,775 megawatts through different sources out of which 10,635MW was hydel power whereas 26,683MW was thermal.
The petitioners said that the transmission and distribution capacity was stalled at around 22,000MW irrespective of the generation capacity.
They contended that for the consumption of electricity the consumers had been charged much exorbitant rates than that of the production-cum-distribution costs, besides subjecting them to multiple taxes including income tax, general sales tax, E-tax, service rent, fuel price adjustment, PTV fee, LP surcharge, GST on LPS, meter rent, peak hours charges, FC surcharge, electricity duty, and annual quarter tariff adjustment.
The petitioners contended that those multiple taxes had no legal justification.
They said that the government was duty bound under Article 29 read with Article 2-A of the Constitution to promote social and economic well-being of the people that included provisions of facilities to the citizens for work and adequate livelihood.
The petitioners said electric supply was a basic need of life, so subjecting power consumers to “oppressive taxes” amounted to the denial of electricity.
They claimed that transparency in the monthly consumption billing system of electricity was altogether missing, so people had to pay for the “shortcomings” caused by line losses on account of power theft and free electric supply to government employees.
Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2023