The National Electricity and Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has given the power distribution companies a Rs 1 per unit increase in the power tariff for April, providing yet another hike in the power tariff, as fuel adjustment, on the excuse of the increase in international oil prices. Apart from providing yet another reason why the turmoil in the Arab world, by leading to speculation in oil, is causing problems for all, this increase, which is massive by any count, will be effective just in time to coincide with the beginning of the heat, and the turning on of fans, air-conditioners and other cooling devices. The tariff will not just hit the ordinary consumer, who has been driven to protest against the distribution companies, but the increase will also act as a dead hand dragging down commerce and industry. It is perhaps ironic that while representatives of commerce and industry were only recently given access to the highest levels of government, this hike was in the pipeline. The irony lies in the fact that the representatives of the business community laid particular emphasis on the availability of power, and at a reasonable price. Already, the power distribution companies have proved unable to provide power supplies, what with the shortfall hitting new records and the hours of loadshedding growing continuously, thus making export industries uncompetitive because foreign buyers could no longer be assured of deliveries on time. When outrageous prices will be charged, not only the domestic consumer, but the industrial and agricultural, will also be harmed. The harm to agriculture is particularly painful, because the only reason the country has not caved in is because it can feed itself. This is because of electricity-powered tubewell irrigation, and if this is threatened, the consequences will be the responsibility of NEPRA, for increasing electricity rates beyond what can be paid. The government has little enough concern for the ordinary consumer, otherwise it would have taken appropriate action. However, it seems more concerned with pleasing the IMF, and would not only let NEPRA have its way, but is concerned with eliminating subsidies more than it is with taking action to prevent members of the government from leading luxurious lifestyles at the taxpayers expense. The need of the hour is for the government to concert measures which would move commerce and industry towards higher productivity rather than put more shackles on them, while at the same time it hurts the domestic consumer. An appropriate first step would be for the government to stop this increase.