ECC likely to abolish Neelum-Jhelum surcharge from electricity bills

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet is likely to accord approval for the abolishment of the 10-paisa per unit Neelum-Jhelum surcharge from electricity bills, after 13 years.

In this regard, the ECC would meet under the chair of Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Friday to mull over an eight-point agenda.

According to local media reports, the surcharge was added in the electricity bills for the construction of the Neelum Jhelum Hydro Power Plant in 2008 and was being charged even after the completion of the hydropower project in 2018.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Parliament’s sub-committee on energy had already recommended abolishing the surcharge.

The surcharge was imposed in 2007 for part financing of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Pro­ject with a sunset clause of Dec 31, 2015 — the completion target of the project started at the time with an estimated cost of Rs130bn. It was envisaged that half of the financing would be generated through this surcharge on every unit of electricity sold to consumers in eight years.

The cost of the 969-megawatt run of the river project in Azad Kashmir, however, kept on increasing and was completed in 2018 at about Rs500bn. The 10-paisa per unit surcharge was ex­­tended for one year and another 18 months until July 1, 2018, but has continued until now.

Additionally, the meeting would also approve a supplementary grant for the Special Communications Organisation (SCO) on the recommendation of the Ministry for IT and Telecom whereas the issue of paying dues owed by Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) to a German company is likely to be solved with the payments likely to be approved.

Moreover, the ECC would also mull over approval of communication support for the Ehsaas Programme and the formation of a committee to solve matters relating to excessive taxation in the telecom sector.

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