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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Majlis appeals to re-address electricity tariff for the needy

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The members of the Majlis Ash’shura on Wednesday discussed two urgent statements on red palm weevil and the new electricity tariffs, besides several subjects, during the seventh session of the third annual sitting (2021/2022), chaired by Khalid bin Hilal al Maawali, Chairman of the Majlis Ash’shura, and in the presence of the secretary-general and members.


Hamid bin Ali al Nasiri, a member of the Majlis, appealed to stop the spread of red palm weevil urgently, to reduce its damage on palm trees and thus cutting down the production of dates.


He said in a statement: “The date palm occupies first place in the Sultanate of Oman. It is the first crop in terms of population and prevalence, forming a beautiful panel of suburbs and oases associated with beauty, tourism and heritage. It is cultivated on more than 73,000 acres, or 78 per cent of the total area covering fruit cultivation, and 34 per cent of the total cultivated area, most of which is irrigated with aflaj. If we do not pay attention to the danger of this insect, these areas may get affected. I would also like inform that production of dates according to 2020 statistics stood at 368,000 tonnes, and if we do not take any action towards the danger of palm weevil, this productivity may fall.”


He added that the Sultanate of Oman is one of the most important countries taking lead at the Arab and global levels in the number of date palms.


Al Nasseri stressed that “the spread of this insect and the delay in combating it, push people to consider it as a normal insect, although it poses great danger and may lead to the extinction of villages and oases and change the nature. Also, laxity in combating this will increase the death and deterioration of palm trees, lack of production and delay in achieving the purpose for which the Omani Dates Production and Packaging Company, the integrated factory, 6 collection centres in different wilayats and the Textile Agriculture Research Centre for palm were established.”


Al Nasseri proposed to allocate a uninterrupted annual amount from the Ministries of Finance and Economy to address these pests that threaten the palm trees. He also appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources to establish a date-palm pest control centre, similar to the Desert Locust Control Centre, and be administratively and financially independent.


Badr bin Nasser al Jabri, a member of the Majlis, gave an urgent statement on the new electricity tariff, in which he indicated that there are about 1.3 million electricity accounts and 400,000 families, and that if all Omani families were supported with the same previous support with an account for each family, this means that the government supports only 30 per cent of electricity accounts.


ELECTRICITY TARIFFS


Al Jabri stated, “The new electricity tariff puts pressure on the poor and middle-income segments with the future of this tariff in the next 10 years when the tariff decision was drawn up with an annual increase of no less than two baisas per kilowatt for each of the three segments. The absolute price of the lowest segment, which is 14 baisas per kilowatt, for the average consumption rate 4,000 kilowatts is considered high compared to the reasonable income of families, which does not correspond to what the citizens and residents aspire to and doesn’t comply with the living conditions”.


On the other hand, the part of government decisions came in line with the council’s ambition through its previous studies and reports. “I mean here the decision to merge the supply and distribution companies and come up with a structure which can meet the requirements of operating the sector efficiently, at low cost and high technology and this is what we all hope for. The sector needs to raise efficiency, not by reducing subsidies only, but the most important thing is to work seriously to reduce costs in this sector,” he added.


Al Jabri mentioned that the new electricity tariff for the agricultural sector and the abolition of the reflexive tariff associated with it is calculated for the benefit of the sector, the government and the local and foreign investors, and goes along with the goal based on enhancing productivity, eliminating costs, and going for mechanisation and useful technology that enhances its added value.


He suggested that the government’s decision regarding tariffs and structuring to be addressed in the housing tariff part, provided that the tariff for the average


consumption of the first 6,000 kilowatts starts at a price of 12 baisa only, and the annual increase estimated at two baisas need to be looked into, so that the 2022 pricing remains the basis.


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