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EditorialFAC exemption relief

FAC exemption relief

There is certainly some ambiguity in the collection of Fuel Adjustment Charges (FAC) in the electricity bills, which are beyond the comprehension of the common man. The issue came into the limelight when citizens received inflated electricity bills in August whose electricity usage cost and FAC charges were almost equal or in the majority of cases the latter were in excess. Shocked citizens after seeing their bills first resorted to street protests and then turned to the offices of power distribution companies. Arguably, the government’s justification for the imposition of exorbitant FAC lacked wisdom. According to the government formula, the charges were implied after almost two months of the actual production cost of energy. This practice, in fact, disturbs almost every household budget and most citizens are left in the lurch to either pay their electricity bills or get their connections cut off. Amid this conflict between consumers and the federal government, the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) intervention was a much-needed development. Citizens moved the court for the redressal of their genuine grievance. Providing much-needed relief to citizens, the LHC has quashed FAC from electricity bills. However, the decision will not be acceptable to the government which is finding it an uphill task to sustain the financial burden of producing costly electricity. This is the reason that the government has withdrawn almost all existing subsidies on electricity bills under fresh commitments made with the International Monetary Fund.

The imposition of surcharges and perpetual FAC on citizens, who regularly pay their utility bills, is a temporary and unjustified solution that does not obviate the recurrence of the problem of mismanagement. The government needs to treat the cause, not the symptoms. Electricity suppliers, replicating their SOP regarding the common consumer, should devise a comprehensive strategy for eliminating all problems related to the power sector one by one. It is unfortunate that the masses pay for the inefficiency of government departments that fail to evolve an error-free system.

The government needs to rectify errors in the system. The concerned departments need to expedite the process of determining the actual cost of electricity generation and other necessary surcharges. The accumulation of production costs plus additional taxes makes the number of electricity bills’ go skyrocketing. The majority of population in the country has limited resources of income and cannot make payments against unexpected utility bills. Moreover, the provision of cheap electricity is the responsibility of the federal government and it should not shun its duty. Alternatively, the wrath of citizens can bring severe consequences for the incumbent government.

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