ISLAMABAD: The business community, in a meeting at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), appreciated the move of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for ordering concerned authorities to take stern action against those involved in electricity and gas theft and termed it a much-needed initiative, said a press statement on Tuesday.
The businessmen of Islamabad vowed to fully support all efforts of the government aimed at nabbing the big power theft mafia to control the massive pilferage of electricity and gas.
Chairing the meeting, ICCI President Zafar Bakhtawari said that as per National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) report, Pakistan is losing power worth Rs40 billion annually on account of electricity theft, while the government had been providing Rs394 billion as subsidy per annum to the power sector, which shows how the taxpayers money is being wasted on keeping inefficient entities afloat.
Bakhtawari said if this dangerous trend is not arrested immediately, the country will never be able to overcome the energy crisis that has already crippled trade and industry and limited economic growth.
ICCI president said the massive theft of electricity and gas casts very negative impact on the economy as it creates energy shortage, hits business and industry, raises electricity cost, increases circular debt and discourages new investment in the power sector. He said the government should introduce latest technology and smart meters to control theft along with launching a national campaign to control power theft.
He said that deregulation of the power sector and privatisation of power generation companies and distribution companies can also be another good option to get rid of power theft and improve performance of inefficient units.
He said along with taking administrative measures to control power theft, the government should also take structural decisions and focus on harnessing cheap energy sources including hydropower, coal, solar, wind and biomass, which is a sustainable solution of energy crisis.
The businessmen were of the view that the government should arrange equal load-shedding in all the provinces so that businessmen could adjust their production schedules to cope with the power outages.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2013.
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