The Iraqi cabinet allocated $400 million on Wednesday (May 25th) to cover the cost of supplying private and government generator operators in Baghdad with free fuel.
Each generator operator will receive 30 liters of diesel fuel per day for every kilovolt produced. The cabinet, however, said the operators had to provide electricity for at least 12 hours a day, with the price per ampere to be decided later by the Baghdad Provincial Council.
A statement released by Ali al-Dabbagh, minister of state and the official spokesman of the Iraqi government, said the provincial council will monitor the supply and distribution of fuel to ensure it is only being used to generate electric power.
The new system will go into effect at the beginning of July.
For many years, Iraqi citizens in all provinces have depended on privately owned generators to supply their households with electricity. In addition to being costly, these generators do not provide enough power to operate all the necessary household appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioning units.
In April, the Iraqi government started distributing electric generators to a number of residential neighborhoods in the capital to help provide additional sources of energy during the summer season.
The generators were received by contractors under certain instructions and guidelines: the number of subscribers to any one generator should be at least 150, and the generated power should be sold to the residents at no more than 7,000 dinars per ampere.
Operators of both government and privately owned generators -- estimated at around 7,000 in Baghdad alone -- used to receive 20 liters of free diesel fuel from the government for every kilovolt produced. Provincial council member Ghalib al-Zamily and the deputy chairman of the council's energy committee said officials visited generator operators to see what obstacles they are facing.
''We paid a visit to the central refineries company, and the oil products distribution company, and saw how work was going on in order to provide the fuel for the generator operators. Out of those visits and the follow up, the idea for the project was sent to the cabinet, which approved it," al-Zamily told Mawtani.
The cabinet reached an agreement with the central refineries company to supply operators with the lubricating engine oil free of charge.
''The number of hours of supply will be increased while the price of amperes will decrease because we have provided all these resources to the generator owners. The ampere price will be decided through the lists which will be submitted through the municipality and the local councils,'' al-Zamily said.
Kassim Mohammad, the secretary to the parliamentary oil and energy committee, said, ''The decision by the cabinet to support generator operators is important and comes at a vital time to ease the hardship of citizens resulting from the power shortage.''
''It is our duty as responsible offices to do all we can to provide services to citizens, including electric energy; even so, we have not done enough for the people,'' Mohammad told Mawtani.
A number of generators operators in Baghdad said the new plan would help increase the number of hours that electric power is supplied to citizens.
Ahmad Muslih, a generator owner in the Dora area, said, ''This increase would help a great deal in easing the burden of the fuel cost, which would then lead to easing the citizens' hardship by increasing the hours of supply.''
Salman al-Jubouri, 44, a resident of the Mechanics neighborhood, said, ''Such projects and decisions would ease much of our hardship, and it is also a proof of the officials concern over the services provided to citizens.''