Business leaders demand transparency and legal basis in electricity billing

KATHMANDU: The industrialist, alleging discrimination in the determination of electricity tariffs for dedicated and trunk lines, has leveled serious accusations against Kul Man Ghising, the Managing Director of the Nepal Electricity Authority. In a press conference held on Sunday, Ghising accused the authority of effectively transforming industrialists into criminals by striving to present a favorable balance sheet.

During a press conference on Tuesday(Dec 28), Ghising revealed the decision to disconnect power lines due to failure to meet revenue targets for dedicated and trunk lines. Subsequently, on Sunday, all industrialists directed aggressive statements towards Ghising.

Former president of the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Pashupati Murarka, expressed concerns over the Nepal Electricity Authority’s (NEA) approach to tariff collection, emphasizing that the authority’s role is to collect tariffs, not set them.

During a press conference organized by industrialists under the Confederation of Nepalese Industries, Murarka questioned the lack of action against customers who utilized electricity without permission, arguing that those who adhered to regular bill payments were ready to pay if provided proof. “If we don’t follow the law by not paying the bill, we will be a partner in it,” he asserted.

Industrialist Pawan Golyan expressed concern that the government’s decision to disconnect electricity to industries nationwide is poised to lead to the closure of all industrial operations. He accused the government of compelling industrialists and their workforce to take to the streets. Golyan warned that if the government maintains this approach, it will inevitably result in the shutdown of all industries, causing widespread economic damage to the country.

Rajesh Agarwal, president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries, echoed the sentiments, questioning the rationale behind cutting power lines despite assurances to pay for dedicated and trunk lines. “Is it a crime for him to do business? Can the government be used to fulfill the ambitions of a person?” Agarwal raised these concerns during the conference.

Anjan Shrestha, senior vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese Industries and Commerce, criticized the actions of Kulman Ghising, stating that he was acting as if his statements were the law. Shrestha highlighted discrepancies in NEA regulations, emphasizing that a premium fee should be charged for more than 20 hours of electricity, as per NEA guidelines.

In response to Ghising’s stance that even 15 hours of electricity usage requires a premium fee, Shrestha called for the involvement of the Electricity Regulatory Commission. He urged the Prime Minister to address the issue promptly.

The industrialists also raised questions about the NEA’s billing practices, pointing out that most industries paid their bills regularly and availed a 2 percent discount facility, as per authority-issued bills. They questioned the inconsistency in applying premium rates, citing approvals from the Electricity Tariff Determination Commission.

The businessmen challenged the NEA’s decision to charge premium rates beyond load-shedding periods, emphasizing the need for legal clarity and evidence in a country governed by the rule of law. The press conference highlighted the industrialists’ demand for transparency and adherence to legal standards in electricity tariff enforcement.

Fiscal Nepal |
Sunday December 31, 2023, 04:10:32 PM |

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