ISLAMABAD - The government has decided in principle to stop further increase in power tariff and freeze the basic  electricity tariff at the current level for at least next 18 months, it is learnt reliably here Friday.

The power division (Ministry of Energy) will convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding the government’s decision to cap the basic electricity price, official source told The Nation.

The source said that the decision was taken to control the price hike of the basic commodities. Since the incumbent government entered into office, the utilities’ prices have increased manifold. The increase in the prices of utilities particularly electricity, gas and petroleum products has accelerated the process of prices hike of basic commodities.

Not only the industry and commercial consumers but also the domestic consumers are hard hit by high electricity rates. Currently, the average electricity tariff is around Rs13.68 per unit which doesn’t include general sales tax, some other taxes and duties.

As per the decision, the government will take a summary for the electricity price cap at the existing level to the ECC for approval. After approval from the ECC, the government will get the approval of NEPRA for capping the electricity tariff at the current basic price.

It has also been proposed that even the monthly and quarterly price adjustments by NEPRA will not be passed on to the power consumers during the 18-month period. The frequent adjustment allowed by NEPRA to Discos has recently echoed at various forums and a parliamentary subcommittee has recently noted that NEPRA has failed to protect the power consumers and under pressure from the government is benefiting the Discos by illegally imposing quarter tariff on the consumers.

It is pertinent to mention here that the hike in gas and electricity prices was the pre-condition of the IMF loan program.

The talks between Pakistan and IMF for the second review under the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) is currently under progress which is reviewing the economic situation of the country.

After completing its second review, the IMF would take a decision to release $450 million to the Pakistani government.

Pakistan has so far received $1.44 billion from IMF in two tranches. The IMF in July 2019 had approved a 39-month extended ar rangement under the EFF for Pakistan for an amount of about $6 billion.