ISLAMABAD - The local business community in a meeting at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry strongly protested against the inflated bills of IESCO for the month of August 2014 and called upon the government to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter, as many citizens are unable to pay excessive bills.

Shaban Khalid, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that throughout the world, utility services tariffs are determined keeping in view the purchasing power of citizens, but in Pakistan the power tariffs have gone far beyond the paying capacity of a common man. With almost 200 percent increase in electricity bills, one wonders how people could meet monthly expense of their families after paying such huge amounts of power bills. It seems the decision makers have no concern with the problems of a common man who is being pushed towards severe stress. It has also been observed that many extra charges/ surcharges have been added to the bills which are unjustified.

In a press statement, he said excessive electricity bills not only make the life of common man extremely miserable, they also create lot of problems for business and industry as they result into huge increase in cost of production that eventually hampers industrial growth, hurts exports and puts unbearable burden on the economic growth.  He said that about 30 to 35 percent billing was being done in a presumptive manner, which is a great injustice to the nation. He said the current government has made massive increase in power tariff so far due to which our exports have become uncompetitive in international market. He said Federal Minister for Water and Power has already admitted in writing on the floor of the House that electricity charges in Pakistan are higher in the region and added that making further increase in power tariffs in such scenario is beyond understanding.

Shaban Khalid said businessmen have been demanding for reduction in power tariffs to facilitate the growth of business activities, but instead the govt has opted to further increase electricity rates.

 This situation will not only discourage new investment and industrialisation in the country, it will also hit our exports and decrease employment opportunities. ICCI President said hike in power tariffs also leads to increase in power theft and receivables, which ultimately brings more problems to the power sector. He stressed that government should focus on maximum exploitation of hydro energy source, which provides the cheapest energy as it costs just Rs.0.08/Kwh as compared Rs.18.25/Kwh from furnace oil and Rs.5.58/Kwh from gas respectively.

ICCI has set up a hotline on its website to monitor the situation and have urged the consumers to notify their grievances on the website.