OUTLOOK — By Ali Al Matani — The electricity service that we receive is one of the main and important services that we can have. It can be added to water and air to form a triangle without which no one can live. The electricity service that is being provided to us is very important in the Sultanate of Oman. The government attaches great interest and care to this service because of its importance to the society as one of the main and basic services that should be available for a nominal fee for all classes and categories of society, with no fee ceiling or pricing categories.
More than thirty years ago, pricing categories for electricity consumption have been set at 10 baisa (1,000 baisa equal to RO 1) per each one kilowatt of consumption up to 3,000 kilowatts, 15 baisa per one kilowatt of consumption between 3,000 and 5,000 kilowatts, 20 baisa per one kilowatt of consumption between 5,000 and 7,000 kilowatts and 25 baisa per one kilowatt of consumption exceeding 7,000 kilowatts.
Because of many developments and changes that have taken place during this period of time, these pricing categories have to be revised and adapted to match the current circumstances. All families have seen growth in numbers, so also electricity consumption has increased. It is natural to see that the electricity consumption in the modern world is increasing regularly because the different uses of electricity itself has increased compared to past times. This increase in electricity consumption is due to the technological development and the new technical appliances and devices that depend on electricity.
All these changes put more pressure on the shoulders of consumers who have to pay expensive bills because they can't do without most of the new technical appliances and devices, in addition to the new uses of electricity. This in turn lays stress on the need to review, reconsider and change these pricing categories to be more compatible with the current time.
There is no doubt that water and electricity services are provided by the government to all local communities. But these two services specifically cannot be compared to the other free or subsidised services provided by the government, such as health and education. These expensive bills for electricity and water services have made what is supposed to be free basic services turn into commercial services. The above said pricing categories should be revised to reduce the burdens accumulating on the shoulders of consumers.
The category of 3,000 kilowatts where the consumer pays 10 baisa per each kilowatt doesn’t cover the needs of one person living in one room. Not to mention families of five to eight members. This amount of power can be consumed by one person only: due to climatic and technological changes also: everything around us, from air-conditioners to cellphone chargers, is operated by electricity. All these price categories — in place since the eighties — have to be revised and changed to be more appropriate to the current time with all its updates.
Of course, we are supporting rationalising consumption, either regarding electricity and water or any other basic service. But rationalising consumption is one story and making fees and charges affordable is another story. Electricity service is one of those services that reflect the luxury and development of any society. So, this service shouldn’t turn into a factor that disturbs people. These pricing categories limit the use of electricity, accumulate pressures on people and make the ordinary people moan.
We are hoping that the government reconsiders these price categories of electricity services to reduce the burdens accumulating on the common people, by combining all these categories in one category; where one kilowatt of consumption costs 10 baisa only, with no different levels of consumption.