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Interprovincial Differences in Power Sector Subsidies and Implications for the NFC Award


  • Umbreen Fatima

    (Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS), Lahore)

  • Anjum Nasim

    (Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS), Lahore)


Power sector subsidies constituted 83 percent of the federal government’s total subsidies of PRs 558 billion in 2012; the tariff differential subsidy (TDS) amounted to PRs 457 billion. TDS is provided to distribution companies (DISCOs) to cover the difference between the NEPRA-approved tariff schedules and the uniform tariff schedule (by consumer group) set by the Ministry of Water and Power for all regions of the country. The tariff approved by NEPRA takes account of all components of DISCOs’ costs, including salaries, overheads, depreciation and maintenance, line losses, return on assets and so on. These cost elements differ across DISCOs. The fact that NEPRA approves different per-unit tariffs while the Ministry of Water and Power sets a uniform tariff (by consumer group) across all DISCOs implies that each DISCO receives a different per-unit TDS (by consumer group) from the federal government. The TDS to individual DISCOs can be aggregated to calculate provincial shares in the total power sector subsidy. This paper outlines the electricity tariff determination process; reports on the TDS by consumer group, DISCO and province; and considers the likely changes in the federal/provincial shares of the divisible pool of tax revenue if TDS were given to the provinces in the form of a revenue share from the divisible pool. We find that residential consumers are the highest recipients of TDS and that it is distributed unequally among the DISCOs. Moreover, TDS is distributed unequally among the four provinces and the distribution is not in line with the shares determined under the 7th National Finance Commission Award.

Suggested Citation

  • Umbreen Fatima & Anjum Nasim, 2013. "Interprovincial Differences in Power Sector Subsidies and Implications for the NFC Award," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 52(4), pages 421-436.
  • Handle: RePEc:pid:journl:v:52:y:2013:i:4:p:421-436

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    More about this item


    Energy Consumption; Energy Prices; Electric Utilities; Electricity; Electricity Sector; Regulation; Federalism; Subsidies;

    JEL classification:

    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • L98 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Government Policy
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism


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