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Enigma of electricity bills

Enigma of electricity bills

The official machinery in Pakistan has been outrageously proving for years that it is incapable of handling any situation from planning to implementation level. The political governments come and go and they only give directions and policies on certain issues. However, it is the bureaucracy which plans and implements the government directions. In its latest move, the government has chosen a novel way to enhance its revenue collections from the electricity consumers without increasing the power tariff and that is to impose 7.5 percent sales tax on commercial and big electricity consumers.

According to a report by Customs Today, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has obtained a list of commercial and big electricity consumers to send it to the regional tax offices to collect 7.5 percent sales tax on their electricity bills. It is unfortunate that the element of humanity is always missing in the official machinery when such policies are made and implemented. Corruption has been ingrained in society over the years and all and sundry know that the power generating and distribution companies are fleecing the people on one pretext or the other. The Pakistan Television fee has been incorporated in every electricity bill no matter if there is any television set in a location or not while electricity meters are reportedly installed 25pc faster than their real speed to cover line losses.

The working of the Wapda staff is before everyone as some of the employees are involved in corruption. Some houses with four ACs pay Rs 1,500 a month bill and a single house of a poor family is sent Rs 10,000 bill. Sometimes the carelessness of a meter reader causes great anguish to the electricity consumers when he makes under-billing by refusing to count electricity units properly and units keep piling up to bring heavy bills after a few months. Likewise, if the meter reader sends over-billing, it also proves to be agonizing for the consumers. But problem is that there is no consumer court to fix injustices of the power companies. Any argument with the electricity staff means more troubles.

The news report says that the consumers with Rs 20,000 or above electricity bills will be charged 5.7 and 7.5 percent sales tax on the amount of electricity bill. There is a trend all over the world that when you buy more, you get a concession and pay less, and when you buy less, you pay more and you are not given any concession. But the rules in Pakistan are different. Here you buy more you pay more and you buy less you pay less.