Power firm employees’ perks may be withdrawn

Expresses shock over provision of free electricity even to senior officials.

Our Correspondent August 07, 2012

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Tuesday has recommended halting provision of free electricity to employees of power distribution companies (DISCOS). The panel, in its meeting, also reiterated demands for disconnection of power supply to all defaulters.

The Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power expressed outrage over the revelation that the practice continues during a period of crisis wherein the entire energy chain has been crippled with spiralling circular debt.

The committee expressed shock over revelations that even Grade-22 officers in such companies received up to 1,300 units of electricity every month, free of charge.

The panel was informed that staff ranked Grade-1 to Grade-16 benefitted from 100 to 600 units per month of free of cost electricity; while officers ranked Grade-17 to 22 received 450 to 1,300 units per month, free of cost. The meeting was also informed that employees also indulged in exempting themselves from electricity bills of power used over and above units already allotted to them.

The parliamentary panel, chaired by Senator Zahid Khan, observed that provision of free electricity to power firms’ employees was adding undue burden on the national kitty.

The body proposed that the Ministry of Water and Power devise a new mechanism wherein the amounts of free units provided to employees of power firms are adjusted in their salaries. Members of the committee observed that even retired employees were also availing facility of free power. The committee recommended that all free units availed by such persons be adjusted in their pensions, as the practice cannot be justified when the rest of the country suffers from periodic power shortfalls.

The panel expressed annoyance over unannounced load shedding in different parts of the country, and recommended that DISCOS ensure better coordination with the National Transmission and Dispatch Company to improve the situation. The committee admonished DISCOS for operating with ‘too many flaws’ that ‘result into hour-long power outages’. The committee directed a stop to unannounced load shedding, and said action would be taken against those responsible for violating the directive.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2012.