Myanmar scraps plans to raise electricity rates

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myanmar_generatorThe Myanmar government has decided to put off plans to raise electricity rates following a plea from parliament and public protests over the abrupt increase and steep new charges, a senior official said on November 12.

Minister of Electric Power Khin Maung Soe told a parliamentary meeting that the hike in rates effective November would be postponed until the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

“We will charge new electricity rates in the 2014-2015 fiscal year,” he said, citing demands to review the implementation of the new rates by lawmakers, manufacturers, and the public at large.

Myanmar’s 2013-2014 fiscal year ends on March 31 next year.  Under the proposed increase, most families would have faced a 40 per cent increase in their monthly electricity bill. Residents and activists staged protests last week in the commercial capital Yangon while lawmakers and local manufacturers criticised the timing of the move.

Parliament had approved a motion on November 8, prodding the government to reconsider the rise pending a review by lawmakers.

Khin Maung Soe also said that the government would plan to build new power plants to expand electricity coverage.

“If we don’t do this, the nation will face difficulties until 2020,” he said. “We have electricity now because the previous government built power plants using international loans.”

The Ministry of Electric Power is to also conduct a public opinion survey on the proposed hike, with the results of the polling to be reported to parliament, Khin Maung Soe was quoted as saying by MRTV, the state-run national TV and radio station, over the weekend.

He said the decision to increase the rates was made in order to cover rising costs of power production and to help fund an expansion of coverage, which remains low.

“We want to provide more electricity lines and power supply for those who are paying electricity bills that are much higher than those in other cities, and we want electricity to be accessed by all states and regions in the country equally,” the minister was quoted saying by the  Irrawaddy online journal.

According to data from the Ministry of Electric Power, only about 30 per cent of the country’s population is connected to the national electricity grid. Lawmakers had raised concerns that the new rates, which are still government-subsidized, would hurt local manufacturing and hit ordinary workers hard.

“Their incomes are not in line with daily expenses such as for electricity prices,” Parliamentary Speaker Shwe Mann had said.

Under the proposed hike, households that use more than 100 kilowatt-hours per month had to pay 50 kyats ($0.05) per unit, instead of the usual rate of 35 kyats (0.03). Businesses using more than 5,000 units would see their rates rise from 100 to 150 kyats ($0.10 to $0.15) per unit. Surveys show most households in Myanmar use between 100 and 300 units, putting them well within the bracket affected by the increase.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Myanmar government has decided to put off plans to raise electricity rates following a plea from parliament and public protests over the abrupt increase and steep new charges, a senior official said on November 12.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

myanmar_generatorThe Myanmar government has decided to put off plans to raise electricity rates following a plea from parliament and public protests over the abrupt increase and steep new charges, a senior official said on November 12.

Minister of Electric Power Khin Maung Soe told a parliamentary meeting that the hike in rates effective November would be postponed until the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

“We will charge new electricity rates in the 2014-2015 fiscal year,” he said, citing demands to review the implementation of the new rates by lawmakers, manufacturers, and the public at large.

Myanmar’s 2013-2014 fiscal year ends on March 31 next year.  Under the proposed increase, most families would have faced a 40 per cent increase in their monthly electricity bill. Residents and activists staged protests last week in the commercial capital Yangon while lawmakers and local manufacturers criticised the timing of the move.

Parliament had approved a motion on November 8, prodding the government to reconsider the rise pending a review by lawmakers.

Khin Maung Soe also said that the government would plan to build new power plants to expand electricity coverage.

“If we don’t do this, the nation will face difficulties until 2020,” he said. “We have electricity now because the previous government built power plants using international loans.”

The Ministry of Electric Power is to also conduct a public opinion survey on the proposed hike, with the results of the polling to be reported to parliament, Khin Maung Soe was quoted as saying by MRTV, the state-run national TV and radio station, over the weekend.

He said the decision to increase the rates was made in order to cover rising costs of power production and to help fund an expansion of coverage, which remains low.

“We want to provide more electricity lines and power supply for those who are paying electricity bills that are much higher than those in other cities, and we want electricity to be accessed by all states and regions in the country equally,” the minister was quoted saying by the  Irrawaddy online journal.

According to data from the Ministry of Electric Power, only about 30 per cent of the country’s population is connected to the national electricity grid. Lawmakers had raised concerns that the new rates, which are still government-subsidized, would hurt local manufacturing and hit ordinary workers hard.

“Their incomes are not in line with daily expenses such as for electricity prices,” Parliamentary Speaker Shwe Mann had said.

Under the proposed hike, households that use more than 100 kilowatt-hours per month had to pay 50 kyats ($0.05) per unit, instead of the usual rate of 35 kyats (0.03). Businesses using more than 5,000 units would see their rates rise from 100 to 150 kyats ($0.10 to $0.15) per unit. Surveys show most households in Myanmar use between 100 and 300 units, putting them well within the bracket affected by the increase.

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