ISLAMABAD - Water and Power Ministry has failed to implement its own decision to increase the lifeline users’ slab from 50 units per month to 100 power units that is entitled to a price-cap.

In the second energy conference that was held last month in Lahore Prime Minister announced to increase in the consumer slab with lowest tariff to one hundred units consultation with provinces to provide maximum relief to the masses. Earlier, consumers using 1 to 50 units of electricity per month were exempted from tariff increases and paying the General Sales Tax (GST) but after this conference it was decided consumers using till 100 units per month will be treated as ‘life-line’ consumers but this decision has not implemented.

Sources in the Ministry of Water and Power said that government had issued a notification to power distribution companies and NEPRA in this regard, However, implementation of increase in the consumer slab with lowest tariff to one hundred unites has not been ensured and lifeline consumer limitation is still 50 units.

Sources told Online that for the current month (May) major part of electricity bills printing process has been completed and out of twenty badges, eight have been printed with same old slab of lifeline consumers and no relief has been given to the price stricken masses of the country.

Sources said that ministry is reluctant to implement this decision because after implementation of decision regarding increase limit of lifeline slab they (ministry) have to face cut in their revenue collection. Ministry of Water and Power is already facing financial constraint and remained unable to clear its liabilities with PSO and decision to extend lifeline user’s slab would further create financial problems for the ministry. An official said that around 10.3 million consumers use 50 units of electricity per month nationwide. After the increase in the consumption limit to 100 units, about 3.4 million more consumers will be added to the beneficiaries of subsidized electricity. The total number of ‘life-line’ consumers will stand at 13.7 million.

Sources said that finance division was opposing this decision as already more than thousand billion subsidy has been given by the ministry of water and power to the consumers.  An official of the power ministry said that the amount of targeted subsidy would now stand at Rs13 million per month, accumulating to Rs156 million a year. Source told that according to latest estimates, the government will pay a total of Rs396 billion in subsidies during the current financial year.

When contacted Federal Secretary Water and power Imtiaz Hussain Kazi said that in this regard consultation process is continuing and soon consensus would develop and relief would be given to masses. He said that after Prime Minister directions to increase the slab of life line consumers ministry of water and power has written to power distribution companies to devise mechanism for its implementation.

He expressed the hope that during next month this decision would be implemented and relief would be given to the masses.

Imtiaz Kazi said that ministry is also working for long term solution of circular debt and a procedure would be adopted to avoid such situation in future.