Pakistan Electricity Prices Soar, Adding to Inflationary Pressure

669

Islamabad, September 1

Inflation in electricity prices in Pakistan has been increasing progressively and the electricity bill for July can be likened to the symbolic icing on the cake of an economy that is battling with escalating prices of gas, foodgrains etc, The The News International reported.

The situation will need Islamabad to undertake a number of comprehensive efforts, the daily reported.

Within the last year, the price of essential commodity, wheat, has soared by a significant 130 per cent. At the same time, there has been an increase of 108 per cent in gas bills, and prices of tea, rice, and sugar have individually escalated by 90 per cent and 80 per cent respectively.

The News International report stated that the electricity bill is not truly an electricity bill, as only 20 per cent of the total pertains to actual electricity consumption, while taxes make up 30 per cent, and a substantial 50 per cent is attributed to government’s inefficiencies.

Around the year 2008, the circular debt within the electricity sector stood at 100 billion Pakistani Rupees (PKR). In 2023, this number has surged to an astonishing PKR 2,400 billion. The steep escalation holds a shared accountability of every political government that has been in control from 2008 to 2023 for the intricate crisis that has engulfed the nation.

Here is the Partial list of countries where electricity pricing and related issues have led to protests and demonstrations over the years: Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Ukraine, Russia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Haiti, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Paraguay, The News International reported.

The protests in countries like Venezuela, Chile, and Brazil highlight how even resource-rich nations can stumble when it comes to managing their energy sectors.

Mismanagement and corruption can lead to unreliable supply, exorbitant prices, and the subsequent outrage of citizens who find themselves grappling with blackouts and financial burdens. Similarly, in countries such as Sudan, Nigeria, and Egypt, electricity woes intersect with broader dissatisfaction about the quality of governance, sparking mass demonstrations fueled by a sense of economic injustice, The News International reported.

The piece further stated that the case of Pakistan could mirror the global trend, as the backdrop of escalating inflation paints a grim picture for the average Pakistani purchasing power.

The steep rise in the prices of essentials like petrol, diesel, wheat, gas, tea, rice, and sugar has severely strained household budgets, creating a palpable atmosphere of economic anxiety. In such a situation, the surge in the July electricity bill becomes a poignant symbol of the mounting financial pressures faced by an average Pakistani.

The global landscape of electricity-related protests underscores the potent mix of economic pressures and governance shortcomings. he patience of the local population, The News International reported.The case of Pakistan is a “microcosm” of these global dynamics, where rising inflation and soaring utility bills are testing t

Beyond the numbers, the electricity bill symbolizes the intersection of economic strains and citizen demands for fairness and accountability.

Notably, addressing the electricity crisis and preventing social unrest requires holistic measures that span from energy sector reforms to broader governance improvements.

So, if Pakistan hopes to keep the lights on both literally and metaphorically in the lives of the citizens, it has to undertake a number of comprehensive efforts, The News International reported.

Notably, Pakistan is battling a huge economic crisis, with staggering inflation and depleting Forex reserves.

Although the IMF approved a USD 3 billion bailout to support Pakistan in avoiding a default on its debt repayments, Islamabad is finding it difficult to implement all the conditions imposed by the lender.

With sky-high inflation and foreign exchange reserves barely enough to cover one month of controlled imports, Pakistan has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, which analysts say could have spiralled into a debt default in the absence of the IMF deal.

The IMF has requested Islamabad to provide a written plan after the government decided to seek clearance from the Washington-based lender about its proposal to ease the burden on furious citizens over a hike in electricity bills, The News International reported citing sources.

The Pakistan government even had to impose additional taxes of 215 billion PKR and slash expenditures by 85 billion PKR in order to strike an agreement with the IMF.

Source: The Tribune