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Finance directive set aside: Wapda again asks government to collect taxes through Revenue Board

ISLAMABAD (January 16 2003) : Setting aside Finance Ministry's directives, Wapda once again has asked the government to collect taxes through the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) rather than the utility which, according to its Chairman, led to protests in different parts of the country.

“Wapda has not increased power tariff. GST and other taxes have increased electricity charges, which are being collected through the utility,” Zulfiqar Ali Khan, Wapda chief told reporters here on Wednesday after holding an open kutchery.

He admitted that the power utility, whose duty was to supply electricity to the consumers, was working as a tax collection agency, and added that the government has been asked to use CBR for this purpose.

Recently, the Finance Ministry had directed Wapda to launch campaign in favour of the Finance Ministry which was being criticised widely as it was the prerogative of the government to collect taxes through any utility.

The Finance Ministry also cited the examples of PTCL and gas companies which were doing the same job.

Replying to a question, Wapda chief said that it has resubmitted 'two-part tariff ' petition to National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) which was earlier rejected without thorough scrutiny.

According to the petition, Wapda has proposed that tariff should be increased between 5 pm to 10 pm period which is a peak period, whereas rates should be reduced substantially between from 10 pm to 6 am.

This mechanism would reduce the production cost of industrial and agriculture sectors, he claimed.

Zulfiqar said that Wapda has dispatched the 'energy meters case' to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for examination besides the Minister for Water and Power, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, who sought detailed report on the complaint of local cartel.

“Local manufactures are pressurising Wapda to purchase their meters @ Rs 1050, rather than Chinese meters @ Rs 730 with similar specification,” he said, questioning that if Wapda purchases meters from the local cartel at higher rates, the difference of Rs 450 million would be collected from consumers.

When the local companies thought that the deal was going to the Chinese company, they expressed willingness to supply the meters @ Rs 850, just to exploit the utility, Zulfiqar said, adding that “we told them they fleeced the nation by supply meters @ 1250 two years earlier”.

He dispelled the impression of differences with the new Minister, saying that he has good working relationship with the Minister and his directives were being implemented for the transfer of those officers whose tenure on one station has completed.

Zulfiqar Ali Khan said that the Ghazi Brotha hydropower project (GBHP) was on, very much on schedule, and the project would be in operation in June or July as the testing of first unit would start in May, followed by other units after every quarter.

Regarding World Bank's warning to suspend loan for BGHP, if the issue of Tarbela dam affectees was not resolved by January 31, Chairman Wapda said that efforts were being made to resettle the affectees.

However, he added that Wapda could complete the project with its own resources.

Zulfiqar said that Rs 150 billion would be spent on the ongoing hydropower project, which would irrigate 23,000,00 acres of land, adding that these project would boost the country's economy.

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