The announcement by the government extending an additional subsidy of Rs. 830 crore to power consumers and free power supply to Scheduled Caste households consuming less than 50 units a month may have been choreographed much in advance.
The government is projecting itself as a champion of consumers falling in the lower slabs by announcing additional subsidies in the wake of the public uproar against the high power tariffs approved by the A.P. Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC).
In the 2013-14 budget, the government has allocated an amount of Rs. 7,117 crore for the power sector, including Rs. 5,700 crore towards subsidy. In its tariff order, the APERC apportioned Rs. 5,480 crore towards subsidy based on a communication received from the government. Of this amount, a sum of Rs. 3,500 crore was earmarked as subsidy towards free power supply to farmers. The overall commitment on subsidy has risen to Rs. 6,310 crore after the announcement by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy sanctioning an additional Rs. 830 crore for reducing power bills of domestic consumers. The subsidy bill will further go up by Rs. 20 crore taking into account the additional burden caused by Mr. Reddy’s announcement at Jangareddygudem on Friday to extend free electricity to SC households consuming less than 50 units a month. Yet, the overall subsidy will remain at Rs. 6,330 crore — well within the Rs. 7,117 crore provided in the budget.
The balance of Rs. 787 crore will be earmarked for capital expenditure, including Rs. 8 crore for encouraging solar energy.