Poverty body salutes tariff reversal

 President Edgar Lungu’s directive to Zesco to revert to the old electricity tariffs has come as a relief to consumers as most of them could not afford the abruptly hiked rates, says the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR).

CSPR Executive Director Kryticous Nshindano told the Daily Nation yesterday that President Lungu’s directive had come at a right time when people were complaining about the newly effected tariffs as they were ambushed due to little time given by the Energy Regulations Board (ERB) and the power utility company, Zesco.

Mr. Nshindano said there was nothing wrong with Zambia having cost-reflective tariffs to attract more investment in power generation in the country but the haphazard manner in which the tariffs were revised and implemented had a huge effect on the end users.

He noted that the ERB and Zesco needed to do a lot of work before implementing the revised tariffs by engaging all the stakeholders on the implications of tariff  hikes so that customers were not caught unawares when such changes are effected.

“As CSPR we would like to commend President Lungu for his directive to Zesco to revert to old electricity tariffs. Zesco’s implementation of their cost reflective tariffs was too drastic and caught the customers unawares as little consultations were done over the same. There is nothing wrong with increasing tariffs but the manner in which that is done,” Mr. Nshindano said.

He noted that if the new tariffs were allowed to stand, most people who were mainly in the informal sectors such as poultry would have been hit hard as most of them would have been driven out of business as the cost of doing business which was already high would have increased even further.

Mr. Nshindano said there was need for stakeholders to get back to the drawing board and ensure that correct things were done before any changes were effected.

In November last year, Zesco proposed to increase electricity tariffs by over 50 percent for commercial, social and industrial users, while residential customers whose consumption was below 500 units (kWh) per month had been spared and were to continue paying the current tariff of K0.15 per kilo watt hour.

But President Lungu on Sunday directed ZESCO to with immediate effect revert back to the old electricity tariffs which were hiked late last year.

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