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KARACHI: In a rejoinder to a letter sent by federal Power Minister Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Saturday asked the Centre to delink the issue of additional supply of natural gas to K-Electric (KE) from the issue of payment of bills of various utilities and departments.

Any delay in easing the electricity crisis being faced by the people of Karachi could lead to a law and order situation in the city, he said.

In his letter, Mr Leghari had said the electricity crisis was a result of mismanagement, inefficiencies and commercial mishandling by KE.

He had also urged the Sindh government to pay some major outstanding bills of the power utility.

Read: Karachi’s artificial power crisis

In response, the chief minister said: “The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board [KWSB] has a claim of about Rs18 billion against various federal government entities operating in Karachi, which is not being paid despite several notices; thus, the issue of disputed claims among different entities shall be delinked from the [issue of] additional gas supply to K-Electric.”

CM says delay in easing crisis may lead to law and order situation

He went on to say: “Let me state that government of Pakistan has to take responsibility for the failures of KE as it had privatised the entity without consultation with the-then Sindh government and entered into the contractual arrangements with the private party, while keeping Sindh government completely out of the process.”

Mr Shah said the Sindh government was not even provided a copy of the Implementation Agreement (IA) signed by Islamabad with the private entity.

He said the agreement’s copy, subsequently obtained by the provincial government, showed that the Kara­chi Electric Supply Company (which was later renamed as KE) had been privatised as a vertically integrated entity, creating a private sector monopoly in generation, transmission, distribution and billing and collection.

“If the public sector monopoly was bad, private sector monopoly is worse.”

He said that if report of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority about mismanagement and non-utilisation of idle capacity on the part of KE was an indictment against the utility, it was also a charge-sheet against Nepra itself, which “has utterly failed in discharging its duties as an effective regulator”.

The citizens of Karachi have been suffering since long because of mismanagement on the part of KE and due to Nepra’s failure to regulate the affairs of the sector, he said.

About the federal minister’s contention on KWSB’s outstanding bills owed by KE, Mr Shah said those dues dated back to the period when the agreement mentioned above was in effect.

“The government of Pak­istan had on its own guaranteed the payments of KWSB. We cannot be held responsible for the payments.”

The chief minister said: “While penal actions may be taken against K-Electric on its non-performance and ToRs for settling the disputed claims [may be] finalised, additional gas supply may immediately be restored to K-Electric in the larger interest of the residents of Karachi.”

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2018