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Massive hike in POL, power rates from today

01 October, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday gave a shock to the already burdened public by announcing an increase in the prices of petroleum products and electricity.

The government notified a significant hike in power prices, ranging between Rs 2.93 and Rs 5.89 per unit for domestic consumers. The increased prices will be effective from October 1 (today). An official of the Water and Power Ministry said the raise in the power tariff would help the government generate revenue from consumers, a move that will reduce the power subsidy, in accordance with IMF loan conditions. The domestic consumers using more than 200 units will now pay Rs 14 per unit against the old rate of Rs 8.15 per unit, an increase of Rs 5.89 per unit.

Consumers using more than 700 units would face a hike of Rs 2.93 per unit in the tariff. Bulk consumers will now pay Rs 18 per unit, instead of Rs 15.07 per unit. The consumers of the Peshawar Electrical Supply Company and those who use less than 200 units per month would be exempted from the hike in prices. Meanwhile, contrary to the proposals of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and Petroleum Ministry, the government on Monday went ahead with the increase in prices.

The price of supreme petroleum has gone up from Rs 109.50 to Rs 113.25. Whereas, after an increase of Rs 4.69 a litre, the new price of diesel would be Rs 116.95 against the old price of Rs 112.26. The price of light diesel (LDO) has been increased by Rs 2.81, taking it to Rs 101.24 per litre from Rs 98.43. Likewise, the price of HOBC has been increased from Rs 138.33 to Rs 143.9. The price of kerosene oil, mostly used as fuel in remote areas where LPG is not available, has also gone up from Rs 105.99 to Rs 108.14 after an increase of Rs 2.14 litre. According to an official, OGRA had advised the government not to pass on the price differential to the consumers and maintain the September prices for the month of October.

He said that the ministry had also endorsed the recommendations of OGRA and called for maintaining the prices and subsiding the differential. However, he added, the government's finance managers have the final say in this regard. The official further said that the government is still subsidising supreme petroleum. "Instead of passing on the differential of Rs 5.45 a litre, the government has passed on Rs 4.12 and subsidised the product with Rs 1.33 litre," he added.

The opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have reacted strongly to the increase in power tariff by the government. PPP President Amin Fahim Monday said it was an anti-people step that would make survival difficult for the poor masses.

"The government of the rich cares only about the rich and has nothing to do with the poor people," Fahim said. He said the PPP would lodge a strong protest in the National Assembly and would also hold demonstrations across the country over the hike in prices.

The party termed it a "callous and thoughtless move totally disregarding the plight of the poor people" of the country. In a statement leader of the opposition Khursheed Shah said that the raise of four rupees per unit in the price of electricity will place crushing burden on the people already reeling under inflation, lawlessness and unemployment. He said that the party will raise the issue in parliament along with other parties in the opposition with a view to force the government to take back its decision.

Meanwhile, PTI termed the new electricity rates as "brutality against masses". "What the PPP government did in five years, PML-N has done in four months," the PTI spokesman said. He added that the party would stage protest rallies to demand withdrawal of increase in the electricity rates.

The party said that this act of the government has burdened the already financially crushed people of the country and it would be unbearable for the poor masses. It warned the government to refrain from passing the burden of its expenditure and budget deficit to the people through such "cruel acts".

End.

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