Unhealthy financial burden on state
How could one justify “zero bill” for electricity supply when the financial health of the PSPCL has dwindled to such an extent. But our political parties are more concerned about their vote bank, instead of taking care of financial health of the state. Rarely do citizens question the ruling class. The most important question is how our state with a surplus budget till 1983 became a state with a burden of Rs three lakhs crore loan? It is because of such unhealthy financial burdens on the state exchequer. Hence, our all ills are due to poor leadership for which Nick Fewings rightly said “Often, poor leadership is masked by those with the loudest voices, and strongest opinions”. Let the vigilant citizens of the state come forward and show their concern for poor financial health of the state.
Keep losses of PSPCL in mind
There is one class of employees in our country that has the authority to increase their salary and perks without any check from any independent authority and is further authorised to spend taxpayers’ money to enhance their vote bank, this is political class. Free power supply with dwindling financial health of the PSPCL is a fallout of such policies. We the people of the state are happy to get zero bill for the electricity consumption, but we forget the old saying “Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak”. So we are happy with free light but we should also hear about the loan and losses of the PSPCL.
Pragmatic policy assessment needed
Without any doubt, the changes by the new government are being welcomed by the common people as some of these were long awaited. Out of many recently taken steps, providing free electricity is an important one. It was required to be done because many people especially, from the lower and middle class, can’t pay exorbitant electricity bill. However, the scheme for every class regardless of their economic status does not make any sense. People such as politicians, government employees, doctors, lawyers and eminent businessmen should be taken out from the ambit of the scheme. Although, the rates per unit can be concessional for them, providing them with zero bills is ridiculous. Instead of not charging at all, the government should charge something from those who can easily afford it. Only then, the scheme will work smoothly in the long run.
Lower threshold of free electricity units
Good politics always make bad economics. The Punjab Government’s free power scheme is a perfect example of this. Voters reeling under inflation unleashed by the bad governance of both the centre and the state government were lured by freebies. Because of elections in Gujarat the government urgently pushed this scheme.
The victory, however, remained elusive for AAP. It will certainly make the party to ponder over and recalculate the share of votes that it might or might not have got due to such promises. The scheme of 300 free units to all residents needs reconsideration. Those who are income tax payers should be immediately taken out of this scheme. In the long run, the threshold of free electricity unit needs to be lowered. The benefits of the scheme should be given to those, who are actually in need.
Provide electricity at cheaper rates
The PSPCL on Saturday issued a notification regarding 300 units of free electricity per month, exempting domestic category consumers, who consume up to 600 units in two months. Consumers belonging to scheduled castes, backward castes, below-poverty-line households and freedom fighters will have to submit self-declaration forms for availing the benefits of free electricity scheme. In the long run this scheme is not viable. Because already the PSPCL under the debt of Rs 2,300 crore. Instead of giving free electricity, the government should mull the idea of providing electricity at cheap rates so that everyone can afford it easily.
Rohit Kumar Sehdev
Scheme Not viable in the long run
The free power scheme is not viable in the long run. This is because it is a freebie given by the AAP government and should have been enforced only if the financial position of the PSPCL had been good. As the PSPCL is already in doldrums due to huge loan and mounting financial losses, the Punjab Government’s free power scheme is financially unviable. The government has just catered to its vote bank but ignored the plight of the PSPCL. Earlier too, the people were paying the electricity bills. It is high time the government should take back this freebie, otherwise not only will the PSPCL suffer, but there will be an acute power crisis in Punjab.
PSPCL running into debt
The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited was running into loss when the Punjab Government was giving 200 free electricity units to the SC and BC categories. After coming into power, AAP gave 300 free electricity units to all categories per month. The financial burden has increased. It will be paid by the state government. According to the PSPCL, a majority of the people are eyeing zero bill scheme. For this, the consumers are trying to get more than one connection. That is why around 87% of the total 74 lakh domestic consumers in the state got zero bills in November.
Economic disaster for State
The Punjab Government’s free power scheme under, which 86 lakh consumers, got ‘zero bills’ did not fulfil a long standing ‘demand’ of the people who only want a uninterrupted supply of electricity at reasonable rates. Thus Punjab has become the second state in the country, after Delhi, to give free electricity to households that consume upto 600 units in one bill cycle. This reckless dole, as it appears, was given away in September hoping that it would fetch votes in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, but it did not. On the other hand, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited has been burdened with a financial liability of Rs 24,865 crore including arrears of Rs 9,020 crore for providing this freebie. Sooner or later, the government would have to find out other ways of getting out of this huge liability. The government should be worried about many other pressing priorities like law and order and unemployment.
PROF MOHAN SINGH
Reconsider the scheme
The promises of free power in poll-bound states gives much fodder to political parties. Therefore, it was not a surprise when during Punjab assembly elections campaign, promises to voters were made just tograb votes. AAP had made a promise for 300 power units per month to the consumers, without taking into account its adverse impact on the cash strapped state power supplier, PSPCL. The Punjab Government will be well advised to reconsider its decision of giving free power units to all the consumers. Instead it should allow this scheme only to consumers with upto 2 kw power connection.
From land-grabbing to the fast-tracking of court cases, several issues and suggestions are being discussed in the ongoing NRIs meet in Punjab. How do you view the initiative of the state government to interact with NRIs? What more steps can the Punjab government take to address their concerns?
Suggestions in not more than 200 words can be sent to email@example.com by Thursday (December 29)