The federal government has announced that it will provide Rs 23 billion subsidy on electricity to agriculture tubewells in Punjab during the current fiscal year on account of reducing power tariff from Rs 14 per unit to Rs 10.50 per unit. Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif blamed the previous government for creating hardships for farmers.
He said the previous government had issued in March 2013 illegal orders for a reduction in tube-wells tariff without the approval of the competent forum, which was now being implemented by the present government on the demand of Kissan Ittehad. Speaking at a press conference, Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar said that the government and Kissan Ittehad had reached an agreement that tube-wells would not be provided electricity during peak hours from 5pm to 11pm and peak hour tariff would not be applicable on agriculture tube-wells. The agreed flat tariff of Rs 10.50 would remain effective till June 30, 2014. The Minister also stated that the arrears of farmers on account of electricity bills ran into billions.
The concerned ministry wanted the recovery of non-paid bills but the farmers were complaining of costly billings by power companies on peak timings when their consumption was almost negligible. To a question‚ the finance minister said agriculture sector development had an important place on the government”s agenda. He said the government had earmarked a 30 billion rupees subsidy for fertilisers in the current budget. He said the ECC had allowed the import of 300‚000 metric tons of fertiliser to overcome its shortage. Gas diversion to fertiliser factories would help produce 200‚000 metric tons of fertilisers and the government had also agreed to recover farmers” eight months of electricity arrears in ten instalments.