Electricity rates have sparked debate once again, with a new adjustment to be made for use between 151 – 461 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month during the Covid-19 period.
A press briefing was held at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday regarding the results of the monthly government meeting, held on Wednesday, during which the issue of electricity rates was raised once again.
In March, the Prime Minister’s Office accepted a proposal to increase the electricity rate incrementally from 2020 to 2025, commencing 1 May this year. Under the scheme, residential electricity rates were to gradually increase each year.
The press briefing was headed by Lao Government Spokesman Chaleun Yiabaoher, with Khammany Inthalath, Minister of Energy and Mines, and Mr. Chanthaboun Soukhaloun, the newly appointed Director-General of Electricite du Laos, in attendance.
Mr. Chaleun said that from 2016 onward, the government had agreed in principle to adjust the pricing of residential electricity tariffs from three tiers to six tiers, however, the six-tier system had demonstrated various limitations, and therefore the government charged EDL with the reconfiguring its pricing structure in line with socio-economic development from 2020 to 2025.
After the announcement of a new single-tier pricing structure, the response from the general population was overwhelmingly negative, with concerns raised about higher pricing during a time of economic uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
After concerns were raised at the Party Central Committee, government, and National Assembly, the government took the matter into consideration once more at the monthly government meeting on Wednesday. Concerned for the people, the government instructed the sector concerned to restructure electricity pricing.
Broader Discounted Rates for Covid-19 Period
Subsidized rates will now apply to those whose usage fell within 151 to 461 kWh per month over the last three months, with EDL to decide the final rate in detail. This discounted rate policy will be applicable only for the period that Covid-19 lockdown measures affected the population (April, May, and June). EDL will be in charge of recalculating electricity bills as appropriate.
Reevaluation of Electricity Tariffs
The Ministry of Energy and Mines, in coordination with relevant sectors, is to continue investigating pricing inconsistencies and is to reevaluate the implementation of new electricity tariffs and report to the government for consideration.
Discounts for Medical Staff
Medical staff and personnel who have worked closely with Covid-19 patients will now be entitled to a 15% refund on their electricity bills, which will be paid in cash to each individual.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines has tasked EDL with ensuring transparency and promoting a responsible work ethic among its staff members at every level. EDL has been asked to take immediate action against any of its employees that engage in corruption or any actions in violation of its regulations. At the same time, consumers have been asked to monitor the actions of EDL employees and ensure their compliance with regulations, and to report any wrongdoings using the correct official channels.