Lawmakers on the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat expressed their anger over increased in the electricity bills and sought from the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) the break-up of the subsidy provided to the consumers.
The committee meeting was held here, with its chairman Rana Maqbool in the chair. At the onset of the meeting, the chair asked Nepra Chairman Tauseef H Farooqi about the fine imposed on the K-Electric. Farooqi replied that the K Electric had paid the fine of Rs160 million.
Rana then asked the Nepra chairman about the increase in electricity bills again and again. He also asked about the measures being taken to reduce the tariff. “It has become difficult for the poor to pay their electricity bills. Policies should be framed keeping in mind the situation of the common people,” he said.
“A proper investigation should be held in this regard and we are ready to form a committee, comprising both of lawmakers and Nepra officials in order to look into tariff related issues,” he added. He proposed that energy tariff and petroleum goods should be approved by parliament.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan asked about “the contributing factors” to the price hike of electricity. The Nepra chairman replied that devaluation of the rupee was one of the major factors. “Circular debt is due to government subsidies extended to people,” he added.
Farooqi said that 24 million people in Pakistan were being provided subsidy. The committee chairman directed the Nepra chairman to present the break-up of subsidy to consumers on electricity bills in the next meeting.
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Committee member Kamil Ali Agha came down hard on the Nepra. He said that those who do not steal electricity were made to pay for the power theft. However, another member, Sarfraz Bugti, interjected and said that the decisions had been taken by the ministers, while Nepra had to implement them.
Earlier, the Nepra chairman briefed the committee about the inclusion of hydropower in renewable energy category. He said that as per the current definition of renewable energy, Pakistan stood at a meagre 3% while hydropower’s share was almost 30%.
“Inclusion of hydropower in renewable energy category can strengthen the government’s objective of ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ and help achieve the objectives of the European Union’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+) and creating an enabling situation to qualify for GSP++ category,” he said.
“Inclusion of hydropower in renewable energy category can further help access the global green financing facilities, attract international interest and channel it for sustainable growth of electricity sector of Pakistan.”
Farooqi said that the target for the renewable energy share in the future was 60%. However, Senator Saadia Abbasi asked how Nepra would achieve that target. The NEPRA chairman pledged to present a comprehensive plan of action with timeline in next meeting of the committee.
During the meeting, the chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) briefed the committee members on the mechanism for determining prices of petroleum products and gas, especially recent reduction of Rs1.5 and increase in levy to Rs5 on price of petrol.
He said that the liquefied natural gas (LNG) was imported as per internationally-adopted formula, according to which, he added: “70% of the LNG is imported through government-to-government long-term contracts”.
The remaining 30% was purchased on the spot as per existing rates at the time of purchase by two government-owned entities, the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and the Pakistan LNG Limited (PLL). He said, adding that both the PSO and the PLL had to purchase LNG as per PPRA rules.
The meeting was attended by senators Saifullah Nyazee, Kamil Agha, Sarfaraz Bugti, Khalida Ateeb, Mushtaq Khan, Rukhsana Zuberi, Saadia Abbasi, Naseebullah Bazai, Talha Mahmood, and relevant officials of the Cabinet Secretariat.