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Editorial: Power bomb

Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) is all set to drop power bill bomb on consumers. Spokesman for the state-run electricity distribution company, Wahidullah Tawhidi, said that tariff on imported electricity for consumers was to be increased by 25 percent. The decision has been taken to recover the loss of around $18 million that DABS has suffered during last solar year. According to the spokesman the loss was suffered to boost in the US dollar value. Afghani has dropped against the USD to lowest level in the past 10 years. Major exporters of power to Afghanistan are Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Uzbekistan. The country imports 70 percent of required electricity from these four countries.

The reason the DABS stated has made most of the consumers confused and frustrated. It is feared that the tariff will not only increase on imported electricity but on locally generated power as well. Import of power is more than local production. Similarly, the rate of per kilowatt imported and locally generated electricity is the same. It is widely believed that the DABS had taken the decision after failing to recover the unpaid bills. Most of powerful entities and people, including government organizations, warlords and high-ranking officials are not paying their power bills. The state-run electricity supplying company has been unable to take action against the defaulters.

In addition to that decrease in the value of US dollar has been also a setback for local companies and people. The DABS is not the only affected institute. Therefore, it shall take steps to recover the dues, besides controlling power theft. Recovering the losses will help the power distribution company to bridge the deficit. Power theft is also a hurdle which the DABS shall overcome through improved management. The company shall also address concerns of the consumers by telling that how they would know that they are using locally produced electricity. The tariff increase will apply to all consumers, or perhaps leaving a few. Moreover, the decision is not timely because Salma dam is also expected to start generating 42 megawatt electricity this year.

To deal with the energy crisis, the government shall complete the ongoing power projects on time. Earlier, the president said that the government would complete work on 25 dams. He said the country would generate an enormous amount of energy—“an example which cannot not be find in the history”. But on the ground, completion of the hydro power projects such as Kamal Khan Dam is still in doldrums. Work on the first phase of the dam started in 2011, costing $9.84 million but it is still incomplete.

Majority of officials underline fragile security situation as major factor behind the delay. However, they do not realize that insecurity is an issue which could not be resolved by public. It can be resolved only by the law enforcement agencies. To deal with this challenge, a special task force should be established to ensure foolproof security of the dams. But at the same time the DABS shall keep its decision on hold. Increase in tariff will create severe challenges for the national economy. The main issue which the DABS is facing is poor management. Thus, it shall utilize energy in addressing the problem of mismanagement.

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