Dechen Dolkar

Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) is waiting for directives from the government to waive electricity bills of the lockdown period.

This comes after the Prime Minister, Dr Lotay Tshering, during the press briefing recently, said that BPC might waive the bills if the government asked.

He said the tax BPC pays to the government will be reduced. “Directly or indirectly, it will be forgone from the government coffer.”

Lyonchhen said they talked with the BPC officials and asked them to look into the possibilities.

However, BPC’s chief executive officer, Sonam Tobjey, said that they have not received any formal communication from the government on the electricity bill waiver.

“We have received informal directives from the government on the assessment of electricity bills in urban areas,” he said. “We are waiting for the directives from the government and based on it, we need to work.”

As per a preliminary assessment BPC conducted in urban areas of 10 dzongkhags, the electricity billing amounts to about Nu 111.75M for two months.

Sonam Tobjey said that they have submitted the preliminary assessment to the government.

He said that BPC is also waiving off electricity bills in quarantine facilities, point of entries and high voltage (HV) and medium voltage (MV) industries. “This is done as part of the fiscal measures the government directed. There is no fiscal measure for general consumers for electricity billing.”

So far, about Nu 144.98M were waived for HV and MV industries and Nu 32.07M was waived for quarantine facilities and point of entries.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that Lyonchhen has directed the minister of economic affairs to look into the matter.

Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said that they have collected the data on electricity consumption in urban areas during the winter months and are trying to study how it could be addressed. “Decision on it is not yet taken and it will be ready in one to two days.”