Businessmen set 3-day deadline for govt to withdraw hike in power tariff

F.P. Report
PESHAWAR: Backing the call of shutter-down strike against inflated power bills, Business community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday set a three-day deadline for the government to withdraw the exorbitant increase in electricity tariff and warned to go for protest and every extent against non-acceptance of demands.
Businessmen described the independent power producers (IPPs) as mother of all ill and asking to carry out an public audit of IPPs, what they said, an organized mafia behind the IPPs, which has caused rising circular debts and power crisis in the country.
Traders asked the interim government and prime minister to take tangible and provide relief and special incentives to save the sinking of the national economy. They said imposition of 14 kinds of taxes in power bills was unacceptable, which should be abolished immediately.
Speaking at joint press conference today, acting president of the Sarhad Chamber of Chamber of and Industry Ijaz Khan Afridi and Industrialists Association Peshawar president Malik Imran Ishaq said that no government exists in the country, saying that no stone was remained unturned to increase miseries of business community. A sluggish growth was witnessed in business, industry, trade and exports while the interim government was yet to take corrective measures and put the national economy on the right track, Mr Afridi said.
He said the dollar rate has touched a new peak, even unavailable at high prices in the open market. He said massive increase in power tariff and petroleum products had brought a new wave of inflation, which had hit every segment of the society. Mr Afridi who flanked by former president FPCCI Ghazanfar Bilour, SCCI’s former presidents Fuad Ishaq, Engr Masood Anwar Pervaiz, Zulfiqar Ali Khan, Riaz Arshad, Malik Niaz Ahmad, Sherbaz Bilour, former senior vice president Imran Khan Mohmand, ex-vice president Javed Akhatar and others asked the interim government to sense the gravity of the situation and withdraw exorbitant hike in power bills.
Malik Imran Khan, while sharing statistical figures with the media, blamed the IPPs agreement for increasing circular debts, electricity tariff and power crisis in the country. He said elite class, high officials and powerful people gained special incentives, perks and privileges, in which power charges waiver also included.
Similarly, he elaborated that outdated power transmission lines, distribution systems and poor recovery/thefts also contributed to the growing power crisis. He said power units have increased from Rs51 per unit to Rs80 per unit, actually it is increased by 100 per cent, by adding 48 to 50 per cent various taxes in power bills, resulting in the cost of electricity having increased manifold for the industries.
He added billions of rupees collected in the name of Fuel Price Adjustment (FPAs) in power bills, saying that collection of FPAs was open violation of the 18th constitutional amendments, which should be abolished immediately. Faud Ishaq said our total consumption is 44,000 megawatts against production of 48,000megawatt, so there should not any question about carrying out prolonged electricity loadshedding
Malik Imran said KP was producing electricity at low cost and available in surplus despite that power consumers have been faced with hours-long electricity loadshedding in the province, even supplying electricity on double cost. The IAP president revealed the power tariffs will touch at Rs90 per unit, which couldn’t be accepted. He said if the government wants to promote industrialization and businesses, it should provide relief and special incentives to the business community.
Former FPCCI president Ghazanfar Bilour said the government was seen nowhere in the country. He added an increase of Rs40 in dollar rate was witnessed since the advent of interim government, according to which, the dollar available at Rs303 and Rs305 in banks while in open market, USD rate surged by Rs320 and Rs330, compelling on to increase rate of local manufacturing items.
Ghazanfar Bilour said KP was the only province which is producing electricity on a cheap rate, despite people of the province buying electricity at the highest cost, which they sheer unjustly with them. He said if the rulers gave examples of other countries in the world regarding increasing inflation, those countries are also providing facilities and incentives to their citizens.