Consumer body condemns power price hike

Consumer Protection Association (CPA) has raised concern over the proposed tariff increase of 14.2 percent by the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) for the year 2019/2020.
In an interview with LENA on Monday, the CPA President, Nkareng Letsie argued that mostly when they propose the increment, LEC motivates its proposal that it is expensive to import electricity from Mozambique. He said however, “in 2018/2019 there was a discount of 98 cents but still the company increased tariffs.”


Regarding the economic state of the country, “we need to see the price decrease especially since LEC was last year allowed a full bulk supply tariff. I recommend we consider procuring power from cheaper sources such as ESKOM and the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).”
He added: “Procuring from SAPP would benefit Basotho and Lesotho. It is unfortunate that those in power only care about their own benefits and not of the public.”


Letsie said the CPA did not support the proposed increase. “About 10 years ago with M100, a consumer would get over 100 units but now the amount can only get 62 units of power. The declining economy is affecting consumers more and more.”
“For years the public consultations have been held but we feel that decisions are only made based on the information provided by LEC. I urge that consumers views are taken into consideration at all times and that the state of the economy  is also taken into account. If the hikes continue in years to come, people will not be able to buy M20 electricity,” he argued.
The utilities authority, Lesotho Electricity and Water Authority (LEWA), is currently embarking in an on-going public consultations throughout the country regarding the LEC request and has already had consultation meeting in Leribe district on February 14. Speaking on behalf of the consumers at the meeting, Sello Maphalla said LEC served three groups of the society, which are the elders, the working class and the unemployed.
He said: “The elders are already struggling to buy electricity as most of them are looking after many orphans due to HIV and AIDS pandemic. The tariff is therefore too high for them. The LEC seems to be mainly targeting the middle class which is made of a small population that earn little. This class of people is already failing to meet their daily needs. The increase will therefore put more burden on them.”


He said for the unemployed groups, the proposed tariff increase would be disastrous because they were already struggling to buy electricity.
In 2018/2019, Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) requested a 23.2 percent upward adjustment on both energy and maximum demand charges. For 2019/2020 it is requesting an approval for a revenue of M1.8 billion.
Lena

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