KARACHI: With power outages set to return in the peak summer season, consumers should be prepared to spend hours in the dark as prices of alternative power solutions have more than doubled in the last year.
This was a direct result of the State Bank’s decision to limit the import of raw materials and finished goods to control the current account deficit, according to the traders. The move has proved to be a disaster for generator importers as well as the local industry.
The two major alternative power solutions for private consumers are generators and UPS, powered by batteries, both of which are experiencing significant price increases.
According to dealers in Karachi’s FB area, a 50-amp battery now costs Rs.10,000-11,000, while a 200-amp battery is priced at Rs.42,000-44,000, a jump of almost 100 percent over a year.
“Prices have gone up since the PDM government came to power,” a trader told Dawnadding that “the prices of used batteries have also increased.”
Traders say import restrictions led to price increase; Indus Motor increases rates again
“A used 60-amp battery now costs Rs3,000-3,500,” he said, recalling that the price was Rs2,000 a year back.”
The retailer also complained about the lack of public oversight of manufacturers, who raise prices under various pretexts.
The government should check whether the prices are being hiked for genuine reasons or not, the dealer added.
He also had bad news for consumers considering buying dry batteries as their prices have witnessed more or less the same rise.
According to figures, the net sales of Atlas Battery Limited, one of the largest battery manufacturers in Pakistan, increased from Rs20 billion to Rs25 billion last year.
Net sales for another manufacturer, Exide Pakistan, rose 29 percent in the half-year period ending September 30, 2022. to 10 billion Rs from 7.9 billion. In the same period a year ago, Rs.
The company’s profit after tax also rose to Rs221m from Rs34m.
The curtailment of imports has caused the same problems for the generator suppliers.
“We have been waiting for the State Bank since July 2022 to allow the import of generators. The restriction has created a lot of problems for the genuine importers,” said Sikandar Shahzada, who sells generators at Karachi’s Shahrah-i-Liaquat.
The price of good quality Chinese 2KVA, 3KVA and 6KVA generators has increased from Rs 72,000-75,000, Rs 85,000 and Rs 180,000-190,000 respectively. compared to last year. A 20 KVA Chinese generator is now priced at Rs1.25m compared to Rs 0.85m in the previous year.
With infrequent power outages during the winter season due to low demand, consumers are largely unaware of this price increase.
As load shedding will intensify, the inflation-hit consumers will realize that they can only dream of generators and not buy them, Mr. Shahzada said.
“I don’t think people with limited purchasing power and the rising cost of living will ever think about buying expensive generators, even if load shedding takes its toll in the summer.”
Shahzada added that UPS is also now “out of reach” for the masses as a good quality battery (20-30 amps) now costs Rs 5,500. compared to Rs 3,000 a year ago.
Asked why PBS figures show meager generator imports ($332 million) in the July-January period compared to $1 billion in the same period last financial year, Mr Shahzada claimed that the private sector has not imported machinery since July 2022.
“These imports are made by the operators of public projects,” he added.
The prices of machines are not the only headache for consumers. The fuel needed to power them also escapes affordability.
Hike in car prices
Indus Motor Company (IMC), one of the largest car manufacturers, has again hiked prices, this time on the pretext of the general VAT increase from 18 per cent. to 25 per cent on vehicles of 1,400 cc and above.
The new prices announced after the increase also took into account the impact of volatile exchange rates.
Its cars, Toyota Yaris 1.3MT LO, CVT LO, MT Hi, CVT Hi, 1.5 MT and 1.5 CVT will now cost 4.449 million, 4.789 million, 4.759 million respectively.
Toyota Corolla 1.6 MT, CVT, CVT SR, 1.8 CVT, CVT SR and CVT SR BLK now carry a price tag of 6.169 million. Rs, 6.769 crore. Rs, 7.429 million. Rs, 7.119 million.
The prices of various models of Revo and Hilux have increased by Rs 295,000 to Rs 1.5 million.
The price of Fortuner LO Petrol, High Petrol, Diesel and Legender prices have been increased from Rs14,230m, Rs16,297m, Rs17,175m and Rs18,112m, to Rs15,809m, Rs18,099m, Rs19,0279m. , respectively.
Published in Dawn, 12 March 2023