Power tariff hike decision hangs in the balance

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Sep 14, 2014-

Electricity Tariff Fixation Committee (ETFC) has failed to formalise its decision to hike the power tariff as its members could not sign the minutes during Sunday’s meeting due to lack of quorum.

The committee had decided to hike the power tariff by 13.7 percent on Friday. Three of the six ETFC members did not show up for Sunday’s meeting.

This has raised question whether ETFC will be able to implement the tariff hike as the tenure of its members expired on Sunday. ETFC Chairman Ganesh Prasad Subba said the next committee to be formed has to formalise the decision as the existing panel’s tenure has expired.

The committee, after taking a decision of a tariff hike, has to issue a notice. The new rates can be implemented within a month from the date of the notice, according another ETFC member.

Considering the ballooning losses of NEA, the committee had planned to hike the rates before Dashain. Although the state-owned electricity utility sought a 20 percent hike on the tariff, the committee members agreed on 13.7 percent.

This would be the second increase in electricity rates in the past two years. In June 2012, ETFC had raised the tariff by 20 percent for the first time in 11 years. It went into effect in the last fiscal year.

Stating the increase was not sufficient to reduce its losses significantly, the NEA had ramped up the tariff right after the previous hike in 2012. In 2013-14, NEA incurred losses of Rs 5.74 billion, up from Rs 3.71 billion in 2012-13. Its accumulated loss reached Rs 19.31 billion as of last fiscal year.

MoE told to fill vacant posts

The Agriculture and Water Resource Committee (AWRC) of the Parliament on Sunday directed the Ministry of Energy (MoE) to fill the vacant posts at the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) with permanent appointments within a week. NEA is being run by an officiating managing director for the last few months, while a few of its subsidiaries are without chiefs. AWRC Chairman Gagan Thapa said dilly-dallying in the appointment process has affected smooth functioning of the power sector. Likewise, the panel also asked the ministry to submit its detailed annual plans and programmes for the current fiscal year within 10 days. “It is our (AWRC’s) responsibility to make the government accountable,” said Thapa. “The detail plan sheet should be specific.” MoE Secretary Rajendra Kishore Kshatri said the ministry was working on the appointment process.

Published: 15-09-2014 09:35

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