Monday November 28, 2022

Fate of Rs13 per unit rate to agri tube wells in limbo

November 16, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The fate of Rs13 per unit fixed rate for agriculture tube wells announced by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif as part of Rs1,800 billion Kissan Package is still in the doldrums.

The coalition government on October 30 announced it had sliced down the agriculture tube wells’ tariff from Rs16.63 per unit to Rs13 as a fixed tariff that would be charged from tube wells running on the national grid system.

The government said the relief to agriculture tube wells at Rs13 per unit fixed tariff would cost Rs43 billion.

However, the situation has become ambiguous as the Power Division raised a question arguing provision of electricity to agriculture tube wells at Rs13 per unit would cost Rs43 billion only, if taxes and surcharges are added to their bills in addition to the fixed tariff.

And if the taxes are not made part of the bills, then the government would have to increase subsidy to Rs181 billion per annum.

In the ECC meeting held on Monday, Federal Minister for Power Division Engineer Kurrum Dastgir sought a clarification from the chair of ECC if the electricity bills for agriculture tube wells with fixed tariff of Rs13 per unit would have taxes and surcharges or not. The official, who was a part of the November 14 ECC meeting, told The News the issue would be brought back to the prime minister for final decision.

However, the farmers association wanted the government to stick to its

public announcement of Rs13 per unit and not more than that.

The Power Division had no objection, the official said, in providing electricity to farmers at a fixed tariff of Rs13 per unit. But, it was the volume of subsidy that the Finance Division was yet to decide.

“If the subsidy is decided at Rs43 billion, the taxes and surcharges would be part of the electricity bills, and if it is at Rs181 billion, then electricity bills will be based on Rs13 per unit and nothing else”.

The official said Nepra had determined the tariff for agriculture tube wells at Rs24 per unit, but the government was extending it at Rs16.63 with a subsidy of Rs98 billion.

“Now, under the new scenario, the government has slashed the tariff to Rs13 per unit as part of the Kissan Package. But, the fate of this initiative would be decided by the top man of the government after consultation with high officials of the Finance Division,” he said.