ISLAMABAD - The government has committed to giving another 'dose' of 31 per cent hike in power tariffs to masses before June 2009 in the wake of skyrocketing inflation.    Reliable sources in the Ministry of Finance revealed to TheNation that the government had given its words to international financial institutions that it had planned to increase electricity tariffs by 62 per cent in two phases before June 2009. The government had already raised power tariffs by an average of 31 per cent for all consumers except lifeline in September.    This increase would be other than the possibility of levying surcharges in electricity bills aimed to adjust fuel price impact on a monthly basis. "There is a likelihood that the second increase will come in the third quarter of the financial year 2008-09," said the sources. The raise in power tariffs in the third quarter (January-March 2009) of the current fiscal year might in return win a financial package from one of the three major multilateral donor agencies. This inflow would help ease out pressure on balance of payments before the end of fiscal year, said the sources. The first "dose' has become controversial and out of eight power distribution companies, the consumers of the four companies have challenged the decision in the courts, which have granted stay orders against the implementation of the decision. The consumers of Islamabad, Multan, Quetta and Hyderabad will pay bills under the revised rates.   Another increase in power tariffs will further push up the inflation, which remained at 24.52 per cent during the first quarter of the current fiscal year. The government has projected 12 per cent year-end inflation, whereas the international financial institutions conservatively forecast it at 20 per cent. Power tariffs freeze from 2003 to 2007 in the advent of surging fuel prices in the international market and the government failure in timely payment of subsidies to the power distribution companies have resulted in a pileup of billions of rupees subsidies. The Finance Ministry's corporate wing official told TheNation that according to initial estimates these subsidies had gone beyond Rs 200 billion by end of the fiscal year 2007. Only during the last fiscal year, the power subsidy on account of tariff differential and other elements mounted up to Rs 133.3 billion against the budget amount of Rs 72 billion for both the Water and Power Development Authority consumers and Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation customers, the official added.   This backlog is not only pinching hard the government, which has failed in arranging money to clear the arrears but also badly hitting on power generation companies capacity to fully utilize their production levels. Pakistan is currently passing thorough the worst power shortage crisis, which peaked to 5000 megawatts in June 2008 and is hovering around 4500 megawatts in October, leading to 6 to 8 hours load-shedding in big cities and more than 12 hours power outage in small towns and villages. A top Finance Ministry official who favours complete abolition of oil and power subsidies in order to restrict budget deficit to 4.7 per cent of total size of the economy, says due to load-shedding the nation is working half of its capacity. "What growth and development you can expect when everything stands still after every one or two hours", the official said who requested anonymity. He also came hard on the previous government, which due to political motives did not pass on the increase to the consumers before the general elections. He said the problem of load-shedding was more because of liquidity crunch than the capacity to generate electricity.   The International Financial Institutions in addition to advocating elimination of subsidies are also recommending the government to effectively implement power generation expansion programme and remove all types of bottlenecks. These donors say there is insufficient power generation to meet rising demands. And critical investments in the generation and distribution systems have not kept pace with the economic growth, so the available electricity is not effectively dispersed to end consumers.