THREE-DAY DEADLINE GIVEN TO PROVIDE DETAILS OF CLIENTS GETTING UNINTERRUPTED POWER SUPPLY
The Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts today extended a three-day deadline to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to submit the list of clients that are getting uninterrupted supply of electricity via dedicated feeder lines and the tariff imposed on them.
The instruction was given amidst a controversy surrounding the Electricity Tariff Fixation Commission (ETFC)’s recommendation that premium added to tariff on electricity consumed by some of the clients of NEA be waived.
Currently, some of the clients of NEA are getting power supply for over 20 hours per day, while ordinary
people are compelled to cope with daily power cuts of over 14 hours. These clients, according to NEA, are getting preferential treatment because they are categorised as essential service providers.
Some of these clients include Bir Hospital, Tribhuvan International Airport, Singha Durbar complex and Prime Minister’s residence. But apart from these, some of the profit-making ventures, including private hospitals and manufacturing units, and even individuals are also taking advantage of this facility.
Although these clients, who are getting uninterrupted power supply through dedicated feeder lines, were previously charged normal tariff based on consumption, NEA, on July 17, decided to raise the price by 100 per cent.
“We had to do this because we were continuously coming under undue pressure to extend dedicated feeder lines to those who could wield influence,” NEA Managing Director Mukesh Kafle said.
But on Sunday, the ETFC — an autonomous body that fixes electricity tariff — wrote a letter to NEA stating that premium added to tariff of electricity supplied through dedicated feeder lines be waived.
The ETFC said it had taken the decision based on a complaint filed by Bir Hospital, a state-owned hospital which provides healthcare services at a minimal cost.
It is not exactly known how much NEA has to reimburse if ETFC’s decision were to be implemented, but NEA officials say it could amount to a few billion rupees.
At today’s Parliamentary Committee meeting, lawmakers came down heavily on the ETFC ‘for trying to increase the financial burden on NEA’, whose cumulative loss stands at billions of rupees.
Lawmakers, including Bharat Sah, Usha Gurung, Mina Pun and Bharat Saud, also said the move provided grounds to suspect that ETFC had ‘colluded with profit-making private firms who would benefit from the waiver’.
“There is no doubt that Bir Hospital should receive preferential treatment because it is serving the low-income group. But the hospital is only being used as a pretext to serve the interest of profit-making firms that are getting electricity via dedicated feeder lines,” they said, calling NEA’s decision to raise tariff ‘rational’ because ‘NEA is a profit-oriented company’.
The ETFC, on the other hand, has brushed aside lawmakers’ claims.
“NEA has flouted the law by raising the tariff in an arbitrary manner because the ETFC is the sole body that can revise electricity tariff,” ETFC Chairman Jagat Kumar Bhusal said, adding, “We would have taken the same decision even if a private firm had lodged a complaint because no one can revise electricity tariff on its own.”
NEA acknowledged that it had failed to get ETFC’s consent but said it had submitted a proposal on it in January 2014, but the commission failed to take any decision, while the state-owned utility company’s losses were mounting.
Source :The Himalayan Times.