Pakistan People’s Party leaders, industrialists and traders have criticised skyrocketing increase in electricity tariff during the first two month of the present government, saying that the government instead of providing relief for the poor masses was hell bent on eliminating them.

Those expressed these views included: PPP Punjab leader Tariq Mehmood, former nazim Salman Mehmood, Pesticides Dealers Association President Farhad Ali, Private Seeds Association President Khalil Ahmad, PPP tehsil President Nadeem Afzal, Vice President Abul Kalam Shah, Secretary-General Majeed Baloch and other office-bearers Tariq Khan, Rana Arshad, Mehmoodul Hasan, Zafar Iqbal, Shahid Zaman, Sher Ali, Israr Ali, Javed, Khawar and Ali Raza.

They said, “The recent increase in power tariff has proved that the present government is aimed to eliminate the poor instead of providing them with relief.  The government has increased the tariff to a great extent and dropped dearness bomb on the public. The increase will ultimately create problems for industrialists, traders and particularly the public thereby making their life miserable.”

They said that due to increase in production cost, the industrialists would close down their factories and units, and the burden would have to be borne by the common public. Therefore, they demanded, the rulers should withdraw their anti-public decision of increase in power tariff to provide them with relief. Otherwise, they threatened, the Pakistan People’s Party and the business community would be forced to launch an anti-government movement.

The government notified an unprecedented 74 percent increase in electricity tariff for industrial, commercial and bulk consumers of all distribution companies with immediate effect, as per a report. The increase will boost the kitty by Rs169 billion.

Of this amount, Rs136.8 billion pertained to ex-Wapda distribution companies and Rs32 billion to KESC, a senior official said. The ‘anticipatory approval’ of the tariff increase was acquired from the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet through circulation of the file containing different schedules of tariff and it would be endorsed by the federal cabinet soon. The prime minister had allowed tariff increase before leaving for Saudi Arabia. Power Minister Khawaja Asif had announced last week that electricity rates for domestic and agricultural consumers would be increased with effect from Oct 1. The implementation of two-phased tariff rationalisation would cut down Rs396 billion in subsidy, estimated without tariff increase to Rs252 billion as against Rs165 billion targeted in the federal budget 2013-14.