Editorial : Cruel Power Tariff Hikes and Poor Gatekeeping

【明報專訊】The two power suppliers in Hong Kong have announced raising electricity charges next January. Despite the authorities' attempt to "play down" the tariff increase by toying with numbers, after a brief calculation, one can find out that CLP Power will raise tariffs by about 19.8% and HK Electric will even raise tariffs by 45.6% compared to the net electricity rate at the beginning of this year. The government has stated that the two power companies have agreed to draw on the Tariff Stabilisation Fund (TSF) "substantially" and shoulder the negative balance of the Fuel Clause Recovery Account (FCA), as if to say the companies have already "taken care" of citizens very well. The reality is that the government did a poor job of gatekeeping. Amidst the adversity of a recession faced by Hong Kong, the two power companies are still insisting on getting the most out of the permitted rate of return of 8% and passing on the rising fuel cost pressure to citizens. The so-called relief measures are merely about returning part of the profits "reaped excessively" from the people in the past to the public. The Scheme of Control Agreements (SCAs) has allowed the two power companies to take complete advantage of citizens. The government must seize the chance of the SCAs' interim review next year to revise the arrangements for things like fuel charges so that the two power companies can no longer be allowed to demand whatever they want.