Centre to pay Rs 3.25b subsidy for tubewells
By Khalid Mustafa
ISLAMABAD: The federal government is likely to give a Rs 3.25 billion subsidy to tubewell consumers for the next Rabi season as the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and the provincial governments have refused to share it, saying they are already in a financial crunch, an official told Daily Times.
The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock had proposed a 30 percent electricity subsidy to tubewell consumers while keeping in view the water crisis during the Rabi season 2004-05.
According to WAPDA figures, the authority is already giving a 14.4 paisa per unit subsidy on agriculture tubewells. WAPDA has almost refused to share the proposed 30 percent electricity subsidy for the next six months. It said the federal and the provincial governments should pick up the Rs 3.25 billion subsidy. The official said the provincial governments had also refused to share the subsidy saying they (provinces) were already in a financial crunch because there had been no increase in their share in the National Finance Commission award.
“Now the ball is in the court of the federal government which is responsible for bailing out the farmers from the worst water crisis in the coming Rabi season,” the official said. During Rabi last year, the Jamali government had given a 33 percent electricity subsidy to tube wells, which WAPDA had also shared.
There are 87,047 tubewell consumers in Punjab and their monthly electricity consumption is 3,942 units and if they are given the 30 percent subsidy, the government will have to give Rs 1,630.48 million to WAPDA as subsidy. “In the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), agriculture tubewell consumers stand at 15,589 and their per month electricity consumption is 1,536 units. The 30 percent subsidy for the NWFP will cost the government Rs 121.9 million,” the official said.