Two new surcharges incorporated in the power bills last week have inflated the bills of the consumers, leaving them high and dry. Last week, the government had imposed TR surcharge and FC surcharge in the electricity bills. The TR (Tariff Rationalisation) Surcharge imposed at the rate of about 3 rupees per unit is aimed at extorting money from the consumers to clear the circular debt that around 300 billion rupees.
In simple words, the federal government would extort around 300 billion rupees from the electricity consumers to settle the circular debt without having its bad impact on the budgetary deficit.
The FC Surcharge of 43 paisa per unit will be utilized for the development of Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Project and other hydel projects.
Instead of making the power sector efficient the government had opted for this cruel option of levying the TR Surcharge to generate billions of rupees from the consumers of the electricity.
Last year the government did the same exercise and recovered billions of rupees from the consumers by sending
is hovering hefty bills. And when the people set on fire their power bills and strongly protested against the government's strategy of fleecing the consumers, the decision makers linked that raise in bills with the faulty energy meters.
But this time the government had gone a step forward and levied the FC Surcharge to fulfill its mission of raising billions of rupees from the consumers irrespective of the fact that the consumers are in a position to pay the inflated bills or not.
A hue and cry over the social media had already begun against the two new surcharges, but the print and electronic media are yet indifferent to this issue.
On Saturday a delegation of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) held a meeting with the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and urged him to drop the new surcharges for the power consumers. APTMA also requested the minister to clear the pending billions of rupees refunds of the textile exporters and manufacturers.
Like other consumers, the exporters and businessmen too are facing the pinch of the unnecessary increase in the power bills last week.
To meet its goal of raising maximum revenue to clear the circular debt the government is expected to continue its mission of fleecing the consumers in the months ahead.
Interesting to note is that the government had made a commitment with the International Monetary Fund to clear the energy sector debt and instead of making the power sector more efficient the decision makers of the PML(N) have once again selected the consumers to generate billions of rupees through TR Surcharge.
At present the power sector is facing 25 to 30 percent line-losses _ 10 to 15 percent system losses and remaining is the theft of electricity. A year ago the government started a campaign and arrested several consumers, including the industrialists and businessmen involved in the power theft, but the government seemed to have given up that policy.
Alas, instead of providing relief to the power consumers, the government is taking the harsh decisions that are aimed at more and more revenue generation from the consumers that is an easy way to raise billions of rupees.