Won’t charge farmers, but govt must pay up: PSPCL

Patiala, June 13: Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has clearly said it won’t charge farmers and other subsidised consumers of the state and instead approach the government for timely release of its pending amount. A week after the power regulator allowed PSPCL to charge the consumers who get subsidised power, PSPCL says it will write to the government.

Following repeated failures on part of the state government to clear subsidy bills, the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) has ordered the PSPCL to charge subsidised consumers “in case there is a default in disbursement of the subsidy by the state government”.

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The commission, in its orders on June 5, has asked the PSPCL to update the subsidy figure — pending and paid — every fortnightly on its website.

“We will study the orders in detail, but we are clear that farmers and Below Poverty Line consumers will not be billed,” said, CMD, PSPCL, Baldev Singh Sran.

Disposing a petition filed by a retired Chief Engineer of the erstwhile PSEB, Padamjit Singh, the PSERC had allowed PSPCL to charge the applicable tariff from the respective subsidised category in case the state government fails to disburse the entire subsidy as per its tariff order of April 2018-19.

Padamjit Singh had filed a petition before the PSERC regarding non-payment of subsidy in full by the state government during 2016-17 and 2017-18 financial years. The petition has mentioned that the subsidy default of 2016-17 to be paid upfront in 2017-18 as the subsidy is by law an advance payment that cannot be spread over next year.

The PSERC noted that there was a shortfall of payment by the state government on account of subsidy for financial year 2016-17 and 2017-18. The subsidy payable as on March 31, 2017, was Rs 2,918.67 crore, which has increased to Rs 4,768.65 crore as on March 31, 2018. The state government informed the commission that its financial position was not good.

“The state government’s submission that the payment of interest on delayed payment takes care of the delay in the payment of subsidy is not appropriate, as such defaults by the state government violate Section 65 of the Electricity Act, 2003. This also is affecting the cash flow position of the PSPCL and its ability to make payment for expenditure related to salaries, repair, maintenance, power purchase and other important expenses,” the PSERC said.

Source Tribune India