FAC exemption is only for customers using up to 200 units: Dastgir

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: Federal Minister for Power Khurram Dastagir has managed to reach K-Electric head office in Karachi amid the masses’ protest against inflated and overbilling and prolonged power outages.

Dastagir said over and over again at a press conference at K-head Electric’s office on Wednesday, “We are here to settle our differences with K-Electric.” “I know people are in pain and are upset about load-shedding and being charged too much.”

He also said that the privatisation of KE did not go as planned in 2006.

The federal minister said he came to Karachi to settle “financial and legal issues” between the federal government and the KE that had been going on for a long time.

Dastagir didn’t say no when a reporter asked if he was going to renegotiate and sign a new privatisation deal with the KE.

Dastagir said that after the press conference today, he would meet with top KE officials.

He said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had agreed that customers who had used up to 200 units of fuel in the month of June would not have to pay fuel adjustment fees.

The fuel adjustment has been added to the bill for the month of August. “The delay only lasts a month.”

He promised that there would be less power outages and that fuel adjustment charges would go down over time. “Consumers will start to feel better in October,” he added.

He said that the fuel surcharge from June was added to the bills for July, which made the electricity bills go up for everyone in the country.

The minister said that even though people used less electricity in July than they did in June, their bills were still higher because of the June surcharge.

He said that the government had decided to help the people even though there was a crisis and a lot of problems.

Dastagir said that people who had already paid their bills would get a break on their next month’s bills, while those who hadn’t paid yet would get new bills. “Also, the agricultural consumers no longer had to pay a fuel surcharge.”

The power minister also said that, starting in October, commercial metres will no longer have to pay a fixed tax.

He blamed the power shortages in the country on the previous government, which was led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan. “Imran Khan did a terrible job of not paying attention to projects that used alternative energy. During the last government’s time in office, he said, not a single megawatt of power came from a source of alternative energy.

He said that the current government had put a lot of attention on alternative energy, and that Thar coal would soon be used to make electricity. “The government is working to make sure that everyone in the country can get power that doesn’t go out and doesn’t cost too much.”

Dastagir said that PM Shehbaz’s goal of modernising the power distribution companies was also being worked on.

He said that the companies had been told to make sure that metres were put in quickly, that customer complaints were taken care of, and that power thefts on new lines were stopped.

The minister said that Imran Khan kept telling the country that there was no lack of electricity, which was not true. In fact, he said, the amount of power being made was much less than what was needed.

He said that the country’s electricity came from old plants that ran on pricey furnace oil.

In answer to a question, the power minister said that Nepra is in the process of being restructured. “The regulatory body did not do its main job, which is to change rates, when the previous government was in power.”

In response to another question, he said that privatising K-Electric didn’t produce the results that were needed, but that steps were taken to make it work better so that the results could be achieved.

Dastagir said in response to a question that K-finances Electric’s were also being reconciled and that this reconciliation should lead to good things.

When asked if flood victims in Sindh and Balochistan would get help paying their electricity bills, he said that at first, the government was focused on getting them out of danger. Later, steps would also be taken to help them get back on their feet.