City Council Session

Centre asked to bring about KESC tariff cut


By Jamil Khan | KARACHI


MEMBERS of the city council have asked the federal government to intervene and pressurise the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) management to reduce tariff and demanded that the KESC tariff be linked to the international furnace oil prices.

The special session, held at the City Council Secretariat on Thursday to discuss KESC’s excess bills, was chaired by City Naib Nazim Nasreen Jalil. The house adopted the resolution on a majority basis, as opposition members staged a token walk out and did not take part in the voting. The debate was opened by treasury member Abdul Jalil, who stated that in the current winter season, the demand for electricity in Karachi was reduced from 2600 MW to 1600 MW and even after this reduction, citizens are still facing five to six hour long load-shedding.

“The present KESC management, which consists of close relatives of high government officials, is not focusing on improving generation capacity and benefiting the consumers,” he said.

He mentioned that KESC should reduce its non-production expenditures and criticized the recent increment announced for its 800 engineers from the ratio of Rs 5000 to Rs 36,000. Jalil stated that the present management is doing what it can to maintain their profit margin, they are fleecing innocent consumers by issuing excess bills with surcharge and also threatening them through their meter-reading staff. He said that KESC has also reduced the generation capacity of its power generation plants by 50 percent and are now solely depending on the Water and Power Development Authority’s (WAPDA) subsidized electricity.

“Around a month and a half ago, KESC announced a 40 percent relief to the consumers but, so far, neither a proper notification has been issued nor has the deduction been applied and the consumers are still receiving exorbitant bills,” he said. Jalil also demanded that the Federal Ministry of Water and Power should look into the matter and take control of KESC. He stated that it was the provincial government’s responsibility to maintain a suitable tariff for the consumers.

Juman Darwan from the opposition benches said that they objected from the first day of KESC’s privatisation and now the government has no control regarding the matter. He said that all political parties should come forward and resolve the KESC issue for the greater interest of the public. “It seems that the federal and provincial government is helpless when it comes to controlling KESC fleecing its consumers. The city council has passed a resolution and demanded the federal government to take control of KESC but all in vain,” he said. He further demanded that the details of KESC’s privatisation be made public.

Treasury Bench Leader Asif Siddiqui demanded that the details of the current agreement with the new KESC management be made public, rather than matters of the past being dug up and brought into light. A number of speakers from both benches spoke on the occasion and suggested that the government put pressure on the KESC management to comply on the points of agreement, including the investment of Rs 5 billion in power generation as short-term policy and Rs 20 billion as a long-term policy, besides improving the power distribution network.

Earlier, Anwar Baloch and Muhamamd Rafiq of the Opposition tried to highlight other issues, including water scarcity in different city areas and the recent violence, in which over 60 people were killed, however, the convener did not allow a discussion on these topics. Saifuddin, another opposition member, submitted a resolution to pay tribute to the Iraqi journalist who hurled shoes at the US President George Bush but the convener nullified the resolution and persisted that the debate should be strictly based on the KESC issue. Later, the convener adjourned the session till 3 pm on December 20, 2008.

-Published in Daily Times | Dec 19, 2008

~ by jamilkhan on December 19, 2008.

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