PAC orders inquiry into fake billing, bribes

Water and power secretary says consumers being fleeced by Discos; bribes ensure preferential treatment for industries.


Shahbaz Rana August 10, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


Bringing inefficiency and corruption of electricity distribution companies (Discos) to the fore, Water and Power Secretary Zafar Mahmood revealed that some Discos’ employees were fleecing consumers through “fake billing.”


He made these remarks while testifying before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday. The anti-graft body took serious note of illegal practices and ordered an immediate inquiry report by water and power ministry on theft, fake billing and graft in the power sector.

Echoing the complaints of millions of consumers, Mahmood conceded that fake billing was being practised by some power distribution companies after PAC members complained of overbilling, despite 22 hours of load-shedding in the months of May, June and July.

“I have briefed the president that some Discos indulge in fake billing to show less than actual line losses,” said Mahmood. So far, he said, Lahore Electricity Supply Company (Lesco) had suspended 20 sub divisional officers on complaints of fake billing. However, despite claiming zero tolerance for such abhorrent practices, the secretary could not assure PAC of further disciplinary actions against the accused.

Line losses, decreased collection, price differential subsidies and incorrect billing have so far cost the government treasury Rs384 billion during the current financial year. Up to Rs104 billion have been lost due to government inefficiencies while Rs280 billion have been incurred in subsidies to power distribution companies.

Despite such exorbitant subsidies, Discos have not trickled down the price effects to the consumer and continue to charge high power tariffs to cover their inherent inefficiencies.

During the meeting, the secretary informed PAC members that the government ensured equitable supply of power to each disco. However, it was the responsibility of Discos to manage power distribution to end consumers.

Disco representatives briefed the PAC that the industrial sector has been receiving four hours of load-shedding while the agriculture sector faced load-shedding for up to 18 hours a day. PAC took serious note of the preferential treatment given to the industrial sector.

Explaining this phenomenon, Mahmood briefed PAC that the preferential treatment meted out to the industrial sector was a result of Disco employees taking graft money to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity to selected industrial units. PAC member Saeed Zafar said that the current rate for graft in his locality was Rs8,000 per hour.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2012.

ir bills, how would electricity be generated, the bench observed.

 

The court expressed its concern about theft of electricity and said that if such practices do not stop, there would be no end to the power crisis in the country.

The court did not make a final order in this regard, however, saying the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) was an independent body and it could resolve this issue amicably at that platform.

The chief justice asked the counsel for water and power ministry to devise an effective mechanism for the payment of electricity bills.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2012.

COMMENTS (1)

zaheer Hussain | 8 years ago | Reply

Current meter reading is not displayed on newly installed 3-phase electronic meters. While asked asked iseco office in Gulraize high court road rawalpindi, no one was able to tell how reading is calculated. Consumers are completely help less in this case. Pl help.

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