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HCCI president chides caretaker govt for increasing electricity charges

By Aftab Ahmed
February 20, 2024

Hyderabad: Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) President Adeel Siddiqui has criticised the caretaker federal government for what he said its incompetence and failure to produce electricity through renewable energy sources, due to which it allowed power distribution companies to increase the power charges by Rs4.567 per unit under the fuel price adjustment (FPA) for the December 2023 bills.

Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) President Adeel Siddiqui. — APP/File
Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) President Adeel Siddiqui. — APP/File

The increase in power charges were also approved by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra). Siddiqui said that less renewable energy was produced in 2023 compared to 2022. He termed it sheer incompetence of the present caretakers stating that the electricity distribution companies would claim FPA of Rs4.567 per unit for Dec 2023 bills from the consumers in their February bills after Nepra’s approval.

The HCCI chief said that electricity tariff was comparatively low even when the dollar was available at Rs307 in the country sometime back. He added that the rising electricity cost was administrative failure as the government could not ensure the production of inexpensive energy from wind, solar and other such sources.

He asserted that 36 per cent less nuclear energy was produced last year compared to the production figures of 2022. Siddiqui said that local coal based energy’s cost was Rs12.13 per unit whereas 24 per cent more energy based on coal was produced in 2023 in comparison to 2022, due to which the increase of bills under the FPA was not understandable.

He remarked that expensive energy production had been putting burden on the consumers. He maintained that other countries in the region were providing electricity at a rate of seven cent per unit to their industries but the Pakistan industries were purchasing electricity at 16 cents per unit.

The HCCI president said that this had affected Pakistani exports when the export market was facing a strong competition. He said the recent decision of caretakers had unnerved industrialists, traders and consumers. The business community had rejected the raise in the power bills which would contribute to financial miseries for people even further, he added.

Siddiqui urged the government to pay serious attention to the production of inexpensive electricity for the people. He called for rehabilitating closed powerhouses, carrying out research and using advanced technology to ensure cheap energy production He said the 1,300-megawatt coal power plant in Jamshoro should be run through locally produced coal, and power distribution companies’ efficiency should be improved.