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EditorialRelief for some consumers, burden for others

Relief for some consumers, burden for others

The prime minister’s announcement regarding withdrawal of fuel adjustment price on the power bills with less than 300 units is a populist and complex announcement, and the end-sufferer of the announcement will be the general consumers in the coming months. The government announced ending subsidy on electricity bills and petroleum products in June on the pressure of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The ensuing increase in the power tariff showed its true colour in the month of August, when the distribution companies levied a heavy burden on the power consumers for the bills of July. The unit price increased from Rs16.91 to Rs24.82, while small shopkeepers and traders also got Rs3,000 retail tax in the bills. However, the government withdrew this proposal due to strong protests by the traders. It is a bitter truth that in recent times, inflation has broken decades of records across the globe. The high rate of inflation has shaken governments even in the developed countries. The possibility of many countries falling into the mire of recession has increased, including the most developing countries. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, recent inflation in Pakistan has reached a 47-year high, which is the highest in South Asia. No matter which political party is in power in the country, it is not easy to bring down the sky-high prices of electricity and petrol in the current situation, but Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has announced the withdrawal of the fuel price for the bills of up to 300 units. The announcement will benefit 75% of the consumers, according to the government estimate. The plan will bear more burdens to those who consume more than 300 units as the price adjustment will be passed on to them. This should not happen. The prime minister has indicated plans to generate 10,000 megawatts of the cheapest electricity from the sun and wind. There is no doubt that at present the largest share of electricity generation in the country is thermal with 61%. It includes oil, gas and coal, these are the most expensive resources in the world market, which the country’s economy and people cannot afford. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have offered support to the government in this regard. Now is the time to not let the energy sector get sidetracked.

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