Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) president Sean Tembo says government is hiding the main reason behind increase in Zesco tariffs.

Tembo said it was difficult for stakeholders to advise government on the way forward in the absence of transparency.

“The main reason for the increment in Zesco tariffs is not disclosed to us, just like a lot of other factors are not disclosed to us. Why should we increase our electricity tarrifs by 75% within a period of four months? So it becomes very challenging for anyone to look at the economy and provide their suggestion to government on what could be done in order to improve it. That can only be done substantively if the government is very open and very transparent and lay all the issues on the table to say ‘this is where we are standing’ so that someone can look at those issues and give the best advice to improving the country’s economy,” Tembo said when he featured on QTV’s breakfast show on Friday.

He questioned Zesco’s reasons for the 75 per cent increment in tariffs.

“The reason which they are giving us for increasing electricity tarrifs does not hold any water because when you look at the electricity value chain, most of the electricity is generated by hydro. I fail to comprehend at what point Zesco would incur a significant cost such that whatever tarrifs people are paying at the moment would not be adequate because we are looking at rainfall which is our main raw material for the production of electricity. And then it’s free of charge, we don’t pay for water, the rain falls on its own,” Tembo observed.

“When we look at the turbans that are installed for the generation of power, that infrastructure only needs maintenance and you don’t maintain it continuously, it’s just routine maintenance. And when you look at the transmission capacity, it is just the transmission cables and the still poles, there is no much maintenance there.”

Tembo noted that the introduction of prepaid meters had significantly cut down Zesco’s operational costs.

“But now that they have introduced prepaid meters, that has significantly cut down the operational cost for Zesco because they don’t need people to go door to door distributing bills, people just buy online and using other means. So there is no way whatsoever that Zesco can incur a loss,” Tembo said.

“The issue here is transparency. Government is not being transparent on us in terms of providing us a clear value chain of what cost is incurred and where, including a clear total cost of generating a killowatt of electricity is. And in the absence of that information, there is no way that our government can tell us that our tarrif levels are too low to sustain the cost, which cost? But if you are talking in broad terms, you are neither here nor there. Zesco is suppose to be making huge profits but when you look at their financial statements, you see that there are losses, there is a revenue leakage somewhere, and the issue is where is that revenue leakage?”