Gas and power price hikes
There has been a growing public opinion building into crescendo demanding that the government reconsider energy regulatory commission's decision to raise gas and power tariff by 26.29 percent and 2.93 percent, respectively. Leaders of industry and trade, consumer bodies, politicians, including even some government ministers have implored the government as the higher authority to rethink BERC's suggestions for increased tariffs.
In the first place, the regulatory commission's decision sounds arbitrary and unilateral in the manner it has been taken. For, according to reports, none of the recommendations emanating from the public hearing conducted on February 18 has been reflected on the commission's decision. As it happens, public hearing goes through the motion more as a ritual than an input-provider to the decision-making that runs a rather pre-set course.
The energy price hikes would increase cost of production, transportation and that of doing business in general. In more precise terms, our export business would lose its competitiveness where other exporting countries are intrinsically favourably placed as their energy costs have been reduced matching the halving of crude oil prices globally.
Coming to the likely impact on the low and middle income people, it is going to be severe. In the last one decade, energy costs have increased by 125 percent while their income and purchasing power have fallen short of it.
In such a context, therefore, we urge the government to reconsider BERC's proposal in deference to greater public good while the regulatory body holds a fresh public hearing to elicit public opinion and reflect it on the decision finally taken.