Bowing before the Supreme Court and the people’s reaction over the unprecedented increase in the power tariff, the government has withdrawn the recently issued notification.
A three-member SC bench was informed on Friday that the federal government had decided to withdraw the recently-issued notification for an increase in the power tariff.
The federal government informed the bench that it had asked the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) to redetermine the electricity tariff in pursuance of the court’s orders.
On September 30, the PML-N government, whom the poverty-stricken people of the country voted so that they could bring some relief for them, had threw a bomb the on the power consumers by announcing an unprecedented increase of Rs 5.89 per unit on consumers of 201-300 units of electricity and Rs 3.67 per unit consumers of 301-700 units of electricity.
This increase in electricity tariff was one of the requirements of the loan deal struck between government and the IMF. However, the SC, while hearing a human rights case related to unprecedented load shedding on October 1 took notice of price hike and directed the government to review it.
The bench, led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry resumed the hearing into the case.
During the hearing, seeking the attention of Attorney General Munir A Malik, the CJP said the court was not against anybody but wanted to know that under which law and procedure the federal government had issued the notification for the increase in the power tariff.
To this, the attorney general said the government had decided to withdraw the notification and now the NEPRA would decide the new prices after taking into account Rs 150 billion subsidy.
The court observed that NEPRA was not given the full authority to perform independently and questioned what would be the repercussions of the power tariff hike.
“Industry is being given gas subsidy… what does it mean to a farmer of the country?” the CJP asked.
To this, the attorney general said the federal government had set a lower electricity tariff as compared to the tariff proposed by NEPRA.
The court, while recalling the earlier statement of Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Asif, who while attending to the Rental Power Project had said the federal government had no authority to influence the decisions of NEPRA, Chief Justice Chaudhry asked Asif what happened now and why had the federal government increased the power tariff?
Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said the government instead of devising a strategy to recover Rs 441 billion from defaulters was burdening consumers who were paying their electricity bills regularly.
Meanwhile, NEPRA Chairman Khawaja Naeem told the court that power distribution companies had dispatched electricity bills to consumers per the new notification.
To this, the court ordered that all those bills should be withdrawn and adjourned the hearing for two weeks.