ISLAMABAD: Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice Jawad Hassan has “verbally” barred the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) from collecting the fuel price adjustment (FPA) charges as the court aimed to provide relief to millions of consumers across northern Punjab, claimed advocate Rizwan Elahi, who had petitioned the high court against the fuel charges.
A number of people across Pakistan had resorted to protests against the federal government over its approval of the massive increase in power charges which led to inflated power bills in August for both domestic and industrial power consumers. Subsequently, the government of PM Shehbaz Sharif exempted households using less than 200 units from the FPA.
Advocate Elahi, who petitioned the Rawalpindi bench of the high court against the inflated bills, told Dawn that the court “removed the ambiguity” surrounding the bills and after the “verbal order” all consumers — not just those who availed less than 200 units — were eligible for relief.
Iesco supplies power to areas comprising Jhelum, Chakwal, Gujjar Khan, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Attock, and parts of Azad Kashmir.
Asked about the copy of the court order, he said the judge gave the “verbal orders” and added that a detailed order will be issued later.
In an earlier video message, the petitioner claimed that Iesco had been told by the court to issue revised bills within two days. He added that those who had already paid their bills would be compensated in the next month’s bills.
“The order has also been sent to Nepra (National Electric Power Regulatory Authority) and Iesco; therefore, the adjustment will automatically be passed on to the consumers in the next bills,” he claimed.
In an identical petition, filed by the owner of a private housing scheme, the same court observed that “interim relief has already been granted in the aforesaid (identical) writ petition; therefore, following the rule of consistency, it is directed that the petitioner shall pay the outstanding amount of electricity bill(s) for the month of August 2022 within due date except the FPA mentioned therein, for which, the respondents concerned shall issue revised bills within next two working days.”
On Aug 25, Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir announced an exemption from FPA for those consuming up to 200 units, claiming benefit to 17 million users at a cost of Rs22 billion to the national exchequer.
Last month, Nepra allowed distribution companies to charge an additional Rs155bn to compensate for the higher fuel generation cost in June. The authority allowed an unprecedented FPA of Rs11.37 to K-Electric and Rs9.89 per unit to electricity distribution companies previously owned by Wapda, or Discos.
The government had also announced an increase of Rs7.91 per unit in the average base tariff across the country in three phases starting with effect from July. It had approved a Rs1.55 per unit increase in the base tariff across the country under a quarterly adjustment.
Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2022