ISLAMABAD, Aug 9: The water and power ministry has conceded that some employees of power distribution companies (Discos) are involved in soliciting money for uninterrupted supply of electricity.
During a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of National Assembly, the secretary to the ministry, Zafar Mahmood, acknowledged that some Discos were illegally selling electricity, taking huge amounts in the process.
Describing the power sector as “corrupt”, members of the PAC called for thorough scrutiny and technical audit of all the companies involved in order to control leakages in electricity generation and transmission.
“As it turns out, some officials are taking advantage of the electricity shortfall in the country. Actually it’s a ‘blessing’ for them,” said Riaz Pirzada, a member of the PAC.
Admitting that some Discos were involved in overcharging their consumers to recover the losses, Mr Mahmood told the meeting that 20 sub-divisional officers (SDOs) had been suspended in Lahore for inflating the bills.
He also claimed that advanced technology was being employed to bring down the line losses and power theft. Mr Mahmood urged the parliamentarians to support implementation across the country of what he called the KESC (Karachi Electric Supply Company) model.
“The KESC has implemented a very good system, under which power is supplied on priority basis to the areas where the recovery of bills is better,” he said.
PAC chairman Nadeem Afzal Gondal and Abid Sher Ali of the PML-N asked the officials present to explain why the electricity shortfall was not being distributed equally among the provinces.
The secretary to the power ministry told the meeting that four Discos — Gujranwala, Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad — were efficient in collecting bills and had low transmission and distribution losses.
“We would like to see the parliamentarians take some steps to ensure that some kind of reward is given to the consumers of these areas,” Mr Mahmood remarked.
Answering a question, he said that on an average the country was facing an electricity deficit of 30 per cent.
At this, Saeed Ahmed Zafar, a member of the PAC, asked the secretary why the people had to endure up to 18 hours of loadshedding if the shortage was just 30 per cent. It was a shame that the ministry had failed miserably in efficiently managing a 30 per cent shortfall, he added.
The head of the National Power Control Centre, Masood Ahmed, tried to shift the blame for the crisis from the distribution to the generation side.
He said that electricity could not be stored.