Monday, February 26, 2024
Monday, February 26, 2024
HomeTop NewsPM Calls Emergency Meeting Following Protests Over Soaring Electricity Bills

PM Calls Emergency Meeting Following Protests Over Soaring Electricity Bills

  1. The meeting will involve updates from the energy ministry and distribution firms.
  2. Consultations are planned to ease the burden on consumers.
  3. High electricity bills sparked nationwide protests.

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar has taken swift action in response to the widespread protests ignited by inflated electricity bills. In a move to address the concerns of the citizens, he has summoned an emergency meeting at the Prime Minister’s House scheduled for tomorrow.

The primary agenda of the meeting, as conveyed by the Prime Minister through his official post on the microblogging platform X (formerly known as Twitter), is to delve into the pressing issue of escalating electricity bills. Key stakeholders, including representatives from the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) and various distribution companies, will provide essential briefings during the session.

Emphasizing his commitment to the well-being of the public, PM Kakar underscored that the consultations would be aimed at devising strategies to offer maximum relief to consumers grappling with the burden of surging electricity bills. The widespread outrage stemming from these bills has led to protests erupting across the nation, with major cities such as Karachi, Rawalpindi, Multan, Gujranwala, and Peshawar witnessing significant demonstrations.

In Karachi, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) organized protests at multiple locations to express their displeasure over the exorbitant rise in electricity bills. They also raised concerns about perceived overcharging by the K-Electric (KE), the local power provider.

Protesters in Rawalpindi converged at Committee Chowk, where they not only voiced their concerns but also symbolically burned their electricity bills. Their demand was clear: the government should eliminate imposed taxes on electricity to alleviate the financial burden on the public.

Meanwhile, in Peshawar, citizens participating in the protests labeled the surge in electricity bills as unbearable. They urged the government to take immediate action to provide relief to the suffering masses.

Gujranwala witnessed demonstrators surrounding the office of the Gujranwala Electric Power Company, expressing their dissatisfaction with the high costs of electricity. Similar sentiments echoed in other cities like Narowal, Attock, Sargodha, and Haripur, where protests were held to denounce the hefty electricity bills.

The origins of these protests trace back to July, when the federal cabinet approved a significant increase in the base tariff of electricity. This increase amounted to up to Rs7.50 per unit, surpassing the national average tariff determination set at Rs4.96 by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).

Nepra, justifying the tariff hike, cited multiple factors including the devaluation of the rupee, rampant inflation, high interest rates, and the expansion of energy capacities. It also pointed out low sales growth within the sector. However, the decision to raise tariffs was also driven by the need to fulfill one of the stipulations set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for introducing essential structural reforms in the energy sector.

Read more: Electricity Prices Surge by Rs5.40 per Unit

It’s important to note that the actual tariff consumers face will be even higher when accounting for surcharges, taxes, duties, levies, and periodic adjustments. The revised national average tariff for the 2023-24 fiscal year, as declared by Nepra, stands at Rs29.78 per unit kWh, reflecting a substantial increase from the previous Rs24.82.

As the emergency meeting approaches, citizens across the nation anticipate concrete solutions to alleviate the burden of high electricity bills. The outcome of this meeting holds the potential to shape the course of action that the government will take to address the escalating concerns of its people.

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