By M.A. Saki

Rewarding excessive energy consumers will backfire

January 28, 2023 - 18:45

TEHRAN - President Ebrahim Raisi has ordered a 70 percent discount for those gas subscribers whose consumption has exceeded a level set by the parliament.

The order is in contrast to the current year’s national budget law which states the standard for gas consumption should be observed.

The cold season in this year’s winter has been cited as the reason for the discount. It has also been said that some of these subscribers are living in small cities and villages.

If the main concern of the government is those subscribers who live in small cities and villages, this time it can give discounts to them but apply the rule toward other subscribers. Even if this group is given a discount this time, they will go on with their extravagant consumption.

However, Moslem Rahmani, an official at the National Iranian Gas Company, has said that based on the order of the president this discount will continue in the current Iranian calendar year, which ends on March 20.

This shows that the sitting government, like the previous ones, is following populist approaches toward energy consumption.

Giving discounts to excessive consumers in big cities - like Tehran, Tabriz and Mashhad - is an injustice to those who have been heating their houses by observing a limit. 

The extravagant consumers not only have wasted energy to the detriment of national wealth, but they have also been contributing more to the choking air pollution, which is seriously affecting the health of citizens.

In a government whose main slogan is justice, such a discount is a clear example of injustice.

Such populist policies toward energy consumption have turned Iran into one of the greatest consumers of energy – gas, electricity, and petrol - in proportion to its population.

It is better that government officials, especially the president, focus on basic commodities whose prices have skyrocketed incredibly rather than rewarding the excessive consumers of energy.

Officials and ordinary people should notice how the Europeans are regulating their gas consumption despite the fact that Russian gas, which until February 2022 accounted for about 40 percent of consumption in Europe, no longer flows to the cold continent due to the issues surrounding the Ukraine war.

By following such a policy, we cannot train citizens sensitive to wasteful consumption of energy, its real value, building energy-efficient houses, and more importantly sensitive to the protection of the environment.

Experts and officials have warned that if gas consumption continues at the current pace, Iran will turn into a gas importer in future years.

If for certain reasons, particularly sanctions and high costs of living, increasing petrol prices is not expedient, it is essential that officials adopt plans to lower consumption of gas, electricity, petrol and water. 

The more wrong policies continue, the harder it will be to reform them. Petrol is an eye-opener. 

Populist policies toward petrol prices over the last decades have created a chain of problems.

Now the public reacts angrily to even talk of increasing petrol prices. They are more sensitive to petrol prices than bread prices.

Now, petrol consumption has astonishingly exceeded 100 million liters per day and the wasteful use of petrol coupled with substandard cars and motorcycles has made clean air a wish.

In the end, it is the citizen who will suffer greatly.



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