Chandigarh: The Punjab government has hiked the electricity duty by 2% for all categories of consumers in rural areas of the state, making power 25 paise more expensive per unit.
The rate has been enhanced from 13% to 15% with effect from April 1 this year.
The 2% hike will make the state government richer by about Rs 200 crore, and is estimated to bring total duty collection for electricity to more than Rs 1,300 crore per year. The electricity duty for both rural and urban consumers has now become identical.
The hike, which was approved in the cabinet meeting held in March, was notified on Friday. The government notification said the increased levy would be applicable to all categories of consumers of rural areas, be it industry or domestic. The electricity duty was last hiked in March this year.
“The state government does not need clearance from the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission to revise the electricity duty. The regulator’s role is to decide the base power tariff annually,” said power department official.
Under finance department rules, the duty on electricity that Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) collects is deposited in the government treasury. But for the past many years, the state government has been directing the PSPCL to retain the duty and adjust it in the state’s subsidy for free power to the agriculture sector. Even then, the power subsidy bill of the government has swollen to Rs 13,000 crore.
The power regulator recently allowed the PSPCL to charge from farmers if state government fails to pay advanced subsidy for free power. After the pronouncement of tariff for the current financial year, the state government could only pay Rs 780 crore against Rs 2,600 crore for two months of this fiscal.
Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal condemned the “inhuman burden being put on the common man with repeated hikes in power tariff and duties,” and demanded roll back of the hike.