Deplorable U-turn

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CONTRARY to the repeated announcements made by different leaders of the incumbent Government about withdrawal of the oppressive fuel adjustment charges (FCA), Finance Minister Miftah Ismail dropped a bombshell on consumers on Wednesday when he said the application of fuel cost adjustment (FCA) on electricity bills had been deferred, not waived, on the orders of the Prime Minister, but promised that electricity rates and inflation would start declining after a month.

Addressing a news conference along with Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, he, however, forecast a reduction in electricity bills from October asking consumers to bear the burden for another month.

The Government, faced with financial constraints of extreme sorts, might have its own justifiable reasons for taking this deplorable U-turn on the issue but it would prolong and not resolve the difficulties being faced by a majority of power consumers as they find it next to impossible to spare money out of their meager resources to pay hefty bills.

What people needed was a relief for all the months in which the bill amount has multiplied and there was an understanding that the relief provided by the Government under instructions of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was a waiver and not staggering of the amount over two or three months.

The real question is how the poor people would manage to pay the bills without obtaining loans or compromising their food and other needs.

The Government must bear in mind that the power bills are not the only issue as prices of almost all things and services under the sun have increased manifolds due to repeated upward revision of oil prices and electricity tariff besides record depreciation of rupee against the dollar.

An elected government having roots in the masses cannot afford to adopt a callous attitude towards genuine problems of the people.

The issue of an alarming increase in power bills for routine consumption needs to be thoroughly investigated by a neutral forum as there are complaints that the problem owes its existence to oil deals concluded by the PSO at higher rates and abrupt abolition of the slab system as a result of which the consumers are charged at the highest rate.

 

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