Electricity price rises coming soon, says ministry

By NYAN HLAING LYNN | FRONTIER

NAY PYI TAW — The government is finalising its stalled plans to up the unit price of electricity, officials say, after an earlier attempts was called off due to public protests.

But nearly six months after price rises were first flagged by the current government it remains unclear what the new tariffs will be for Myanmar’s electricity grid, which services less than 40 percent of the population and runs at a loss of US$300 million per year.

U Htay Aung, deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, said an announcement of price increases would be unveiled in the near future.

“We are making the service better while we are planning and carrying out the fee changes,” he told a Thursday press conference in the capital.

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Htay Aung did not discuss service improvements in detail, but a ministry press release said the government was repairing old transmission lines, reducing the risk of electrocution through replacement of old wires and optimising existing power stations to improve capacity.

Asked about how electricity rises would be calculated, Htay Aung said the ministry was planning to “fit all social classes.”

A proposal to raise electricity prices in 2013 sparked several large candlelight vigil protests in urban centres, prompting the Thein Sein administration to shelve any increases. The ministry’s latest price rise announcement also sparked smaller protests in May of this year.

According to the ministry’s Thursday statement, over 300,000 more people have been connected to the electricity grid in the last year.

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