September 04, 2013 MUSHTAQ GHUMMAN
The federal government has decided to charge a flat rate of Rs 10.50 per unit from agriculture consumers of five Distribution Companies (Discos) in Punjab during off peak hours till June 30, 2014, well informed sources told Business Recorder on Tuesday.
The decision has been taken in the light of an agreement reached between the representatives of Pakistan Kissan Ittehad, who recently met with Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar in Islamabad. However, the Ministry of Water and Power has not calculated the impact of reduction in current tariff of agriculture tube wells. “Flat rate will be applicable only during off peak hours and no relaxation will be given during peak hours,” the sources said.
The sources said that farmers had not been paying electricity bills since long as Pakistan Kissan Ittahad had announced it would not pay bills due to damages to crops. It may be mentioned here that the PPP government had fixed a flat rate at Rs 8 per unit on March 7, 2013 but the Cabinet”s decision was not implemented. The impact of reduction in power tariff for agriculture tube wells had been worked out at Rs 16.54 billion.
After the decision, a committee comprising the officials of both the ministries was constituted to work out how to implement the decision and ultimately the same committee issued the orders on April 5 to all the electric power distribution companies to reduce the power tariff by Rs 2 – from Rs 10 to Rs 8 per unit for tube wells. The then Secretary Finance, Wajid Rana and Joint Secretary Water and Power, Zargham Eshaq Khan had opposed the tariff reduction but the PPP leadership did not pay heed to their recommendation and forced them to prepare the summary for the Cabinet. Sources claim that Wajid Rana was transferred for opposing the proposal – a brain child of then Minister for Kashmir Affairs, Manzoor Wattoo but Zargham Eshaq Khan survived due to intervention of Raja Pervez Ashraf, the then Prime Minister.