The curse of slabs

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AT a time when there is growing demand by all consumers to do away with the exploitative system of slabs by gas and power companies, the Government is reportedly planning to introduce more slabs for electricity consumers on the pretext of implementation of targeted subsidies in the next budgetary year 2021-22.

It is maintained that at present, 22 million electricity consumers are getting the subsidy and introduction of new slabs would bring down to 13.9 million, saving 42 billion rupee per year in subsidy expenditure.

Relevant officials are on record having said on several occasions that there would be no increase in electricity tariff but the objective would be achieved by denying subsidy to millions who will have to pay more for the units consumed by them.

Regrettably, the electricity bill has become a tool to mint money by way of upward revision of rates; so-called fuel adjustment charges; imposition of relevant and irrelevant taxes, fees and surcharges; and manipulation of slabs.

The policy continues despite strong resentment expressed, from time to time, by different segments of consumers.

In fact, there is absolutely no justification for the slab system as justice demands introduction of one uniform rate irrespective of the units consumed.

Those consuming less will pay less and those consuming more would pay more, a principle that is applied to other items of sale and purchase.

If the Government wants to provide subsidy to certain segments of the society, the objective can still be achieved by granting the subsidy to those whose monthly consumption is below certain units.

The country has become surplus in electricity generation due to completion of a number of projects including those under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

This makes it all the more essential to do away with the slab system, which discourages more consumption by different categories of consumers.

Introduction of uniform tariff would also take care of the perennial problem of circular debt besides removal of causes that lead to heart-burning among consumers.

 

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