ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has taken suo moto notice of the government’s decision to raise electricity tariffs despite intermittent supply.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has summoned Chairmen of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and other companies, demanding an explanation for an across the board increase in the power tariff despite massive load shedding in the entire country. The chief justice has also directed the Supreme Court office to fix the matter in his court on July 6.
The suo motu notice was taken by the chief justice following appeals in different sections of the media inviting his intervention in the matter.
The government has assured International Financial Institutions (IFIs) including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it will gradually remove all subsidies to the power sector from the next financial year.
The commitment suggests that the government intends to substantially increase the electricity tariff by 17 to 20 per cent in two phases during the financial year 2009-10.
Earlier the chief justice had sought comments from the chairman Wapda in compliance of which the chairman submitted that under the 1997 Nepra Act, it was the regulator’s responsibility to determine tariff rates, charges and other terms and conditions for the supply of electric power services by the generation, transmission, and distribution companies. It further was obliged to recommend these to the federal government as well as to comply with guidelines not inconsistent with the provisions of the Nepra Act.
Nepra is also responsible for determining and prescribing any procedures to revise, and modify rates. The power tariff is determined by Nepra for each distribution company based on company’s revenue requirement to ensure smooth running of company’s normal operations after personal hearings and interactions with all stake holders and it is implemented after notification by the government.
News reports suggest the tariff may be increased by Rs1.96 per unit, however, Wapda made it clear that the proposed increase in the tariff has not been ratified by the government.