The State Government decision to spare domestic consumers from the last electricity tariff hike for consumption up to 120 units has come as a severe blow to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).
The government was to have paid the KSEB a monthly subsidy of Rs 25 crore in 2013-14 to cover the loss faced by the power utility owing to the exemption, but not a single paisa has been paid yet. "The government owes us Rs 300 crore at Rs 25 crore a month for the 2013-14 financial year. We have not received any payment so far. In fact, the payments for the 2012-13 financial year were completed only recently," a senior KSEB official said.
Several reminders have been shot off to the government, but to no avail, the official said. After a 10-year gap, the KSEB had hiked the power tariff in 2012, kicking up protests from various quarters. Power tariff hike being a sensitive issue, the government had decided to waive it for domestic consumption up to 120 units - on the condition that it would make monthly payments to the KSEB to make up for the loss. This exemption was continued in the 2013-14 fiscal.
The payments were, however, delayed, prompting the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (ERC) to observe that the KSEB should provide such exemptions only after government makes the payments. On its part, the KSEB has never been able to insist that the payments be made first.
The government had also announced such exemptions when the KSEB introduced surcharges on electricity bills to make up for the losses incurred to purchase additional electricity. With payments delayed, the KSEB was forced to depend on bank loans to meet monthly pension and salary liabilities and the crippling cost of power purchases. KSEB is facing an overdraft of around Rs 4,000 crore. The KSEB has replaced the '81-120' and '121-150' unit tariff slabs with '0-100' and '101-200' unit slabs in fresh tariff revision proposals submitted.
Source- Indian Express