ISLAMABAD

National Electricity Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) continues to take advantage of the 'indifferent attitude' of the consumers while determining the power tariff as and when the power companies suggest - to the disadvantage of over 20 million consumers across the country.

Since many months the number of consumer representatives has reduced to zero. Either it is public hearing for tariff determination or any other hearing only power generation company, Nepra has been deciding the fate of petitions after hearing one-side story painted by the petitioners.

It is a matter of grave concern, that the authority has been making decisions after just hearing the one sided story by power generation or distribution companies, most of the time there is so much jugglery in the data filed by these companies, in absence of any dissenting voice the nation suffers, said Arif Advocate, who has been participating in hearings as social activist. Nepra is a quasi regulatory body established under an act of parliament to work as an independent authority. Its basic job is to balance the interests of various stakeholders, including the government, the private sector and the consumers.

But its prime job seems compromised as the authority has been deciding the petitions after hearing one sided view. What are the reasons of lack of interest of consumers? Arif pointed out that ambiguous process of the authority to inform on the hearings, unorganised consumer network and ill-will of authority has shaken the confidence of common man.

The only method authority use to inform on the hearings is through newspapers. How much people actually read newspapers, it should provide the information about the hearings with bill, with a note that if someone wants to know details it is available on website, he said, adding, the authority gives hardly some days notice and even in that short span of time they did not upload the full petition document on their website or office, so that one can read and positively participate in the hearings.  During last two hearings regarding tariff petition of Genco-3 and tariff petition of Chinese company it was pointed out that no stake holder neither attended the meeting nor there any submissions from consumers side.

During the discussion it was pointed out that Nepra up loaded tariff petition document just two days earlier the hearing.

He also pointed out that since there was no organised civil society in the country, consumer protection agency should do its job and participate in hearings to safeguard the interest of common man. Some civil society representatives believe Nepra discourages dissenting note.

It is one of the cartel we have, what do you think power companies are not providing any benefits to Nepra,  it is not only by chance that the authority never bothers about the users or stakeholders voices and always decides whatever the companies request, said Masoodur Rehman, former General Manger Finance Ministry of Petroleum.

There is no point in going to the petitions when you know you would not be heard, he said hopelessly.

Rehman had been actively participating in the hearings until recent past.

Despite its mandate as per law, the authority officials' believe making decisions in absence of other party is as per law. We have advertised in newspaper, if no one comes, it not our responsibility, we have to complete the process, Chairman Nepra Tariq Sadozai told.

It is pertinent to mention that Nepra decisions directly and indirectly affect more than 180 million population of the country as with every penny increase most of the products increasing food items and other daily usage commodities shoot up.