Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain said on Wednesday that the power sector is destroying the economy and wiping out the middle class. He said there will be no middle class in Pakistan if the electricity tariff is not reduced immediately. Mian Zahid Hussain said that if the price of electricity can vary in different states and provinces in neighbouring India, why is it not possible in Pakistan?
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the policy of punishing honest consumers for power theft elsewhere should be abolished.
He said that the electricity tariff in different areas of India is 16 to 24 rupees in terms of Pakistani rupees. Most of the electricity in India is generated from local coal, while in Pakistan, only 2600 MW of electricity is generated from local coal.
Powerhouses are manufactured locally in India while in Pakistan, everything is imported, he said, adding that wind, solar, and hydropower are also cheaper in the neighbouring country, and payments to the investors are made in local currency, while in Pakistan, we are forced to pay in dollars.
In addition, other countries in the region have not seen massive currency devaluation and skyrocketing interest rates, while in Pakistan, the rupee is depreciating due to an annual gap of $20 billion in revenue and expenditure.
Due to the difference in income and expenditure, the country remains under pressure, and electricity becomes expensive. He said line losses, unpaid bills, and electricity theft are rampant in Pakistan.
The business leader said Rs 800 billion worth of electricity is stolen per year, and honest consumers of electricity have to pay for these losses.
There are frequent interruptions in the supply of electricity; consumption in summer is 30000 MW, in winter, it is only 9000 MW and given future needs, there is an installed capacity of 40000 MW, which results in huge amounts of capacity payments.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that the production of electricity from Thar coal should be increased, and furnace oil production should be completely banned.
Surplus electricity should be provided to industries at cheap rates in the winter. Cheap electricity should be added to the energy basket, he demanded.
17.5% GST is being levied on electricity bills, 5% in neighbouring India and 10% in developed countries. People’s income in Pakistan is lower than in developing countries. At the same time, amenities are lower than in Africa, and GST on electricity bills is higher than in Japan, China, Australia, and South Korea, which is surprising.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that the IMF has prohibited Pakistan from selling electricity at a loss. Still, it has not imposed any restrictions on GST, so this cruel tax should be reversed immediately.
Mian Zahid Hussain further said that the power sector had bankrupted the people, and they have not been able to pay the bills, so the forced surcharge of ten per cent on late payment of bills should also be abolished immediately.