Paying interest: Pouring sludgy surcharge down people’s throat



Pakistan’s citizens are once again being hit sharply in the pocket by a financial surcharge, this time on their electricity bills. The Federal Government must pay for the markup (interest) on loans that The Power Holding Limited (PHL) had taken out to pay off previous debts for fuel purchases and other costs such as T&D losses and bad dets due to theft of electricity. Now, instead of the government/s taking responsibility for the misgovernance on its fiscal resources it has decided to convert PHL’s debt that has piled over the last three years into public debt.

Lacking the spine to put its house and priorities in order, it is left with no choice but to ask the public to take on the cost of the debt. These as per the prior actions required by the IMF to secure the bailout.

But here’s the kicker: the GOP is claiming that this markup is justified under Islamic rules and regulations. How, might you ask? Well, apparently, it’s all thanks to the Uniform Tariff Policy – the policy that ensures that the tariff remains the same throughout the country’s power sector.

Let’s be real here, folks. We all know that inflation is already at record levels (48-year-high), and the last thing people need is yet another financial burden. Currently citizens are already struggling to make ends meet, put one meal on the table, how on earth are they supposed to pay this rise in their electricity bills?

Aside from the surcharge, payments for Fuel Charge Adjustments (FCAs) and Quarterly Adjustments are also adding to the burden of paying inflated bills. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that is no longer sustainable for more than 80% of society. Does the government want people to come out and take to the streets to deal with the onslaught?

Why must the government bear the consequences of inefficient actions of others, or has it become tone-deaf like it has been for the last 20 years? Let’s also not forget the lack of transparency. Where is the breakdown of this surcharge? Why should citizens have to pay for something that most can’t even understand?

The government needs to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s time to rethink this motion and come up with a sustainable solution. It is time they start by taxing their untouchable cows instead. In short, it’s time for the government to take responsibility for their own financial mismanagement and stop burdening the people with these unnecessary surcharges. It’s time for transparency and accountability, not just empty promises, and excuses and blowing in whatever direction the wind blows.