ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has dismissed a petition by telecommunication companies that sought a revision of tariff from commercial to industrial.
The authority justified the decision stating that telecommunication companies do not fulfil the consumer end tariff determinations criteria for the application of an industrial supply tariff.
The decision was taken after Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. (PTCL), Telenor Pakistan (Private) Ltd., Pak Telecom Mobile Ltd (PTML), Pakistan Mobile Communication Ltd. (PMCL), and Deodar Private Ltd. filed separate petitions requesting the authority to approve the said revision in light of the status afforded by the government through the notification No.l (11)/2004-lnvIIl. According to the notification, dated April 20, 2004, the telecom sector, including cellular operators has been classified as an industry.
While a hearing for PTCL’s petition was held on April 05, 2022, petitions of PTML, PMCL and Deodar Pvt. Ltd. were scheduled on July 05 and it was attended by interveners CM Pak (Zong), the Ministry of Energy, K-Electric, the central power purchasing agency (CPPA) and other relevant stakeholders.
The authority is of the considered view that the term ‘value addition’, used in the definition of industry for the purpose of applying an industrial supply tariff, is used in the context of value addition through manufacturing or production process. In case a more broader meaning of the term ‘value addition’ is assumed as a large number of commercial activities, falling within the definition of industrial, with relation to electricity tariff, which cannot be the intent of the definition given in consumer end tariff determinations.
It may be noted here that telecom operators in Pakistan are providing mobile and broadband services to 188 million subscribers with an annual turnover of over Rs400 billion, creating 25,000 direct and indirect jobs. The telecom sector has brought foreign direct investment (FDI) of over $10 billion to date and continues to do so in the shape of license renewals, spectrum fees, etc.
Commenting on NEPRA’s decision, Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin Ul Haque has expressed his concern and said that the right decision could benefit both consumers and the country’s national kitty.
In a statement, he said that the telecom sector has been given the status of an industry by the government. “We believe that it is the right of telecom companies to get electricity tariff at industrial rates.”
Haque said that the matter is not only restricted to the telecom sector but it can be an important step towards providing better facilities to the consumers and attracting foreign investors.