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The Dawn

Published Date: Apr 20, 2014

Citizens reduce power consumption as prices go up

Majority of the respondents of a survey conducted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) have felt that energy prices have become too high for their household budget, and that they have reduced their power consumption.

"A large number of households felt that any long-term energy sector strategy should focus on bringing down the power tariff," the survey said.

SDPI has suggested privatising electricity distribution companies (Discos) on priority basis, ensuring reduction of transmission and distribution losses and thefts.

As many as 3,800 respondents from seven districts of the four provinces were questioned during the survey.

Fifty-three per cent respondents felt that energy prices had become too high for their household budget and a majority of them said they had reduced power consumption and also cut back their household expenditure towards food, health and education.

Some 42 per cent respondents said they had witnessed instances of electricity and gas theft in their area, while two per cent of the respondents even confessed to stealing electricity.

Meanwhile, SDPI recommended that closer collaboration between the business community and government organisations.

"The privatisation of Discos also needs to be expedited followed by privatisation of electricity generation companies (Gencos). Energy reforms should be reconsidered," the survey suggested.

Expressing concerns over the energy situation in country, SDPI has said even before the start of summer the industries were facing 12 hours of power shortages.

The survey also focused on tax reforms in the country. The SDPI has said lowering of tax collection target from Rs2.47 billion to Rs2.34 billion should be a concern for economic managers of the country.

Dr Vaqar Ahmed, deputy executive director of SDPI, said the government should revisit the Statutory Regulatory Orders (SRO) regime, under which substantial tax exemptions were provided in the past.

The survey reveals that 68 per cent respondents think that the tax system in Pakistan is neither fair nor transparent, while 91 per cent taxpayers believe that their tax contributions were not effectively utilised for redistribution and welfare of the poorest.

Incidentally, majority of the respondents feel that the only way the government can generate higher revenue through tax is by burdening existing taxpayers, since there are no serious efforts of widening the tax base.

Some 31 per cent respondents belonging to the business sector said to have provided in-kind or monetary gifts to tax officials in the past.

The survey recommends that tax authorities in Pakistan need to design better and improved system of communications and outreach to bridge the trust deficit and enhance public understanding of taxation mechanisms and procedures.