GWADAR: A subordinate company of the Power Division has asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file an electricity theft reference against a member of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) appointed by the federal cabinet last week.

In a letter to NAB, the Managing Director of Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), Musaddiq Ahmed Khan, alleged that Rehamatullah Baloch and another senior official of the Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco) were involved in abetting electricity theft worth Rs296 million, including Rs163 million government taxes.

Mr Rehmatullah Baloch is still working as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Qesco despite his appointment as member of Nepra having been approved by the federal cabinet last week. Others named in the reference with Mr Baloch include Baz Muhammad, the Mana­ger of Operations of the Qesco, besides two private consumers, including a steel mill owner.

Mr Baloch, when contacted, told Dawn that a conspiracy had been hatched against him to block his elevation to Nepra as member from Balochistan.

He said that he had in fact ordered the raid after the discovery of the electricity theft in which he was now being unnecessarily dragged, adding that such issues pertained to the level of sub-divisional officers (SDOs) and not chief executives.

He said that when the raid ordered by him discovered the theft, new electricity bills were issued to the consumers as was required under rules, but he was dragged in the matter and was now not being allowed to retire from service.

He confirmed that he had also received a letter of explanation from Pepco and would respond to questions accordingly.

Mr Baloch said that he had applied for the retirement from Qesco as a government servant, but his retirement was being blocked by a powerful lobby. He said he would also attend a meeting of a Public Accounts Committee on Monday in Islamabad to explain his position on the issue.

Pepco is a defunct umbrella organisation overseeing operations of all distribution companies of the government.

Its managing director in letters to NAB and the explanation sought from Mr Baloch, alleged that on a public complaint regarding theft of electricity against Reference No 24481340361201 in the name of Syed Abdul Nasir in Saryab Division, a raid was conducted and the theft of electricity was established to the tune of 733,115 units of electricity.

This was valued at Rs296 million, including Rs163 million, as government taxes.

He said that a seven-member committee comprising officers of Pepco found Mr Baloch and Mr Baz Muhammad guilty of negligence in electricity theft. Hence, NAB should undertake further action.''

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2018