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    Nepal: Business, Government at Loggerheads on Electricity Dues

    GovernanceAccountabilityNepal: Business, Government at Loggerheads on Electricity Dues
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    Nepal: Business, Government at Loggerheads on Electricity Dues

    The industrialists complain they are suffering losses worth millions of rupees daily and have warned of a shortage of products in the market in the coming days, unless the dispute is resolved and the halt on electricity supply is lifted.

    Even as the Asian Development Bank has committed to invest in the 635 megawatts Dudh Koshi Project and even as the country’s power transmission lines have been expanded by 3,100 circuit kilometers over the past decade, the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is at a loss on recovery of dues from its largest consumers – a bunch of nine industrial units for defaulting on the payment of dues for the use of electricity through dedicated feeders and trunk lines.

    The NEA has urged the industrial consumers to clear their dues and has said that this alone will help NEA resume power supply, making it clear that there is no other option for the consumers but to clear the dues, albiet on an installment basis.

    At a press conference on Thursday, NEA Executive Director Kulman Ghising insisted that the NEA cannot waive the dues as the government has already issued a directive to recover the dues from the users of dedicated feeder and trunk line by cutting off the electricity supply line.

    Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had instructed the NEA to collect the electricity tariff dues. “The NEA cannot do anything in this regard as exemption is not possible,” Ghising said, urging the industrialists to come forward and deposit certain amount in the review committee under the NEA.

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    Following the PM’s directives, the NEA has cut off electricity lines to some of the Himalayan country’s iconic industries. The business and industry community has expressed concern following the disruption of electricity line. The industrialists say that they are ready to pay the dues if the NEA provides the Time of Day (TOD) meter data. However, the NEA has said it cannot provide such data.

    The NEA started cutting off electricity supply line since last December 26 as per the electricity transmission and electricity tariff regulations after the consumers did not pay the dues despite repeated requests by the NEA.

    Industry losses

    The industrialists complain they are suffering losses worth millions of rupees daily and have warned of a shortage of products in the market in the coming days, unless the dispute is resolved and the halt on electricity supply is lifted.

    The New Business Age news portal quotee Sahil Agarwal, chairman of Jagdamba Steel, one of the companies on notice, as saying that the company is incurring a daily loss of around Rs 25 million after the NEA stopped the power supply.

    “Our industry consumes 40 megawatts of electricity on a daily basis. We have 3,500 workers. About 2,000 tons of steel is produced daily,” the New Business Age quoted Agarwal as saying.

    “Steel production has stopped. If the dispute between the NEA and industrialists continues, there may be a shortage of industrial products in the future. Therefore, this dispute should be resolved soon.”

    Others say that thousands will be rendered jobless if the government does not come up with a solution.

    “We have clearly said that we are ready to pay the bill provided that the NEA gives us the time of day (TOD) meter data. However, the NEA officials are reluctant to give the details. Either they should provide us the proof with the bill if they want us to pay the electricity tariff, or they should resume power supply to the industries,” another industrialist, Shashikant Agarwal, said.

    Although there is no reliable data on the daily losses in all the industries where electricity supply has been stopped, the industrialists claim that all the industries are suffering huge financial losses. Although the industrialist asked for TOD meter data, the authority is saying that it cannot provide such data.

    On a Facebook post, Nepal’s former finance minister, Janardan Sharma termed the recent development as unfortunate. “The authority should be able to refute the allegation of the industrialists that the authority has issued fake bills. Earning non-existent income by generating bills that are not in the TOD meter is wrong,” he said. “After months of discussions, debates, and court proceedings, the production of cement, corrugated zinc sheets, etc, which are being exported, has come to a grinding halt. Therefore, the data of TOD meter should be made public immediately.”

    Image: Hippopx Creative Commons Zero – CC0

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