Strange way to fund CPEC security

THE Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC), on Friday, made another whimsical decision, which is going to add to the woes of the power consumers in the country. It decided to recover the cost of security required for upcoming power projects from consumers through monthly bills for entire 25030 years life cycle of the projects.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is, no doubt, a very important project that is destined to change the fate of the country and the region. The project first faced numerous obstacles from some elements who tried to obstruct its implementation on different pretexts. However, it goes to the credit of the Government that it removed both misperceptions and reservations of various quarters and as a consequence projects under the umbrella of CPEC are moving ahead. However, for the last several months some deliberate leaks were made about expected delays in implementation of various projects in the absence of finalization of necessary security arrangements, which were obviously aimed at paving the way for the decision that the Government ultimately took on Friday. CPEC is dear to very Pakistani but the way the authorities concerned have decided to finance the security cost is sheer injustice to power consumers. This is because there are already four special surcharges on electricity bills to cover low recoveries, high losses, special debt servicing, tariff equalization besides television fee, which is charged even from mosques, and GST and withholding tax. All this has raised electricity tariff to a level where it is considered to be highest in the region with serious implications for domestic and commercial consumers as well as industry and agriculture. The decision comes at a time when the Prime Minister repeatedly held out assurance to the people that his ultimate objective is not only bridging the demand-supply gap in electricity but its provision on lower rates to the consumers. We believe that instead of putting additional burden on consumers it would have been appropriate to ask the Provinces concerned to foot the security bill for projects being implemented in their areas of jurisdiction.

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