GUWAHATI, Sept 27 - The Assam Legislative Assembly today passed �The Assam Electricity Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2018,� even as the Congress MLAs staged a walkout alleging that the passage of the Bill would result in higher cost of electricity increasing the burden on consumers.
The Bill �seeks to amend certain provisions of The Assam Electricity Duty Act, 1964 to give effect to the announcement made in Part II of the Budget Speech for the fiscal 2018-19� by the Finance Minister.
Section 3 on the Act has been amended to �provide for levy of electricity duty on ad valorem basis at five per cent of value instead of specific duty of twenty paise per unit.�
Besides, sub-section (4) of section 3 has also been amended to �empower the State government to enhance electricity duty in future with a upper ceiling of ten percentum of the aggregate value of energy charges and fixed charges.�
Speaking during the discussion, Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed said levy of electricity duty on ad valorem basis will increase the burden on the common consumer. He said the people are already suffering from high prices of petrol, diesel and other essential commodities and said that the time is not right for passage of the Bill.
Ahmed also added that consumers in Assam are already paying much higher than their counterparts in other states for per unit of electricity.
He said that instead of levy of electricity duty on ad valorem basis the State government should provide grant-in-aid for the pension fund of the ASEB.
In his reply, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the Bill has been introduced solely for the purpose of helping the pension fund of the Electricity Board.
He said that over the years successive governments have not provided grants-in-aid to the pension fund and the accumulated due has now reached Rs 4,500 crore. Sarma added that the burden on the consumers of the new legislation would be minimal.
He said that it will also replace the existing ad hoc system with regard to change in levy of electricity duty by a permanent system in future.