Karachiites are shocked beyond words to know that they will have to pay an extra Rs3.75 a unit for electricity with retrospective effect on account of fuel adjustment charges for the month of September. Nepra has approved the raise in the tariff. Thus K-Electric will collect an additional Rs7.22 billion, undoubtedly a whopping amount. Consumers have been caught unawares by this retrospective rise in electricity charges. Since the consumers’ voice goes unheard, they will have to pay the enhanced bills, even though they may have to cut back on basics like food, shelter and children’s education. Their household budgets would be upset.
The stunning increase in power rates is in line with K-E’s notoriety for dispatching ‘inflated bills’ to consumers. While electricity charges have been increasing without pause, power supply to the city has been deteriorating. At present, many areas are experiencing power outages for most of the 24 hours of the day. Remember, this is December when there is not much consumption of electricity. And for the hefty December power bills, consumers will have to pay a heavy amount. In winter, people are being compelled to live in darkness when they had least expected it. Yet, they are being made to pay fat bills for the electricity they consumed several months ago. This kind of ‘taxation’ is perhaps unheard of in other countries. If one public utility is allowed to collect an additional amount, at such a back-breaking scale, other public utilities and sellers would likely follow the example. A bad precedent is being set, and this needs to be undone.
The nation is facing serious economic trouble. The ordinary people are being taxed mercilessly, though they have not caused the economic crisis. The country had to borrow $35 billion from international lenders to meet the largest balance-of-payments crisis it has suffered since 2018. Around 25% of this loan has gone into financing import of luxury goods, including cars. This is mind-boggling in a resource-strained country.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2021.