MD Ghising takes hard line on factory dues: No concessions despite pressure

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KATHMANDU, Dec 29: Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA)’s Managing Director Kulman Ghising has insisted on recovering the electricity tariff dues from manufacturers who were supplied power through dedicated feeders and trunk lines, despite pressure from those manufacturers to revoke his decision.

Organizing a press meet on Thursday, Ghising said he will deliberately cut the electricity supply to the manufacturers that fail to clear their dues on the headings. “Factories cannot back off from paying the dues of electricity tariffs that they had used; rather the NEA will be flexible on allowing them to settle their outstanding amounts in installments,” he said.

NEA chief Ghising made his stance at a time when the dispute between the state-owned power utility and industrialists, over the issue of the dues for using dedicated and trunk lines, has mounted after the power utility cut electricity supply to nine manufacturers in the past few days.

According to the NEA, it cut electricity supply to nine manufacturers, which have dues worth Rs 12.50 billion in total. “We will be gradually disconnecting the power supply to other firms that have been refusing to clear the outstanding amounts,” Ghising said.

Of the firms that have outstanding amounts to pay to the NEA for using electricity supplied through dedicated feeders and trunk lines, Jagadamba Steel is yet to pay Rs 4.14 billion, the highest of all. Jagadamba Enterprises, Narayani Spat Mills and Shree Siddhi Laxmi Steel were provided the trunk lines facility even after the end of the load-shedding. The collective dues of these firms amounts to Rs 1.31 billion, according to the NEA.

The NEA records show that out of 239 production-based entities, which had utilized the special facility provided by the authority, 178 have already cleared their electricity bills. Out of these, 61 firms have been pressurizing the NEA to take back its decision.

The private sector firms have been criticizing the NEA for pressuring them to pay tariffs ‘arbitrarily’. They have been demanding the NEA present the evidence of their dues based on the electricity consumption using Time of Day (ToD) metering, which the NEA has refused to disclose till date.

The NEA on the other hand has been unable to provide its evidence of the TOD meter readings in support of its claim. In a letter submitted to the Sunsari District Court on September 28, the NEA stated that it cannot provide download data for that period because the new data from the TOD meter replaced the old data.

On August 30, the court issued a letter to the NEA regarding the reference to Reliance Spinning Mills. While replying to the same letter, the NEA officials admitted that they did not have any records of the TOD meter.

As per the Electricity Distribution Regulations of 2069 BS, if technical issues with a customer’s TOD meter result in inaccurate consumption readings, causing billing discrepancies, the amount will be discounted based on the analysis of the meter’s download data. However, the NEA has stated that it does not have access to the necessary download data.

Ghising said the NEA customers can appeal against the provided discount facility defined by the regulations. According to him, the 61 firms were also informed about the provisions stated in the law. “However, none of them had filed applications for reviewing the discounted bills issued by the NEA,” he added.