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Power tariff hike in Kerala `inevitable'

Our Bureau

The board plans to embark on a series of measures such as cutting down transmission and distribution losses, preventing power theft and raising the overall efficiency of functioning.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, June 5

AN increase in electricity tariff in Kerala is inevitable, though not immediately but certainly within the next 18 months during which period Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is supposed to close its revenue gap.

This was indicated by the Chief Minister, Mr A.K. Antony, while briefing newspersons after a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

While announcing the Cabinet decision to securitise the board's dues to Central public sector undertakings, the Chief Minister said that the functioning of KSEB will henceforth be closely watched by the State Government as the tripartite agreement with the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India links the board's dues to the State's Plan funding by the Centre.

Mr Antony said that the board's loss was to the tune of Rs. 1,500 crore as of now.

As per a memorandum of understanding between the board and the Government, the former is required to close the revenue gap within the next 18 months.

Towards this end, the board will embark on a series of measures such as cutting down transmission and distribution losses, preventing power theft and raising the overall efficiency of functioning.

But despite all this, it will still face a gap in revenue which could be bridged only through a hike in the power tariff, the Chief Minister said.

In this context, the Cabinet has decided to review the performance of KSEB every month.

Besides, the State Planning Board will review the working of the board every fortnight.

The Cabinet also decided to put a cap on Government guarantees to the loans raised by public sector undertakings.

This is being done in the wake of rising defaults on guarantees, the Chief Minister said.

A legislation to this effect would be brought in during the next session of the State Assembly, he added.

Government employees and teachers will get two instalments of dearness allowance (DA) along with their salary in October. This will entail an additional expenditure of Rs 18 crore a month.

The first instalment is due from July 1, 1999 and the second from January 1, 2001.

A total of six instalments of DA is due to the employees and the teachers, amounting to an outgo of Rs 612 crore, Mr Antony said.

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