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ISLAMABAD: Amid the Rs1.18 trillion power sector circular debt and over 20 per cent technical losses, the Power Division on Tuesday disclosed that almost one-third of sanctioned posts in 10 ex-Wapda distribution companies have been lying vacant due to proposed privatisation and the resultant ban on recruitments.

In a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Power, presided over by Senator Fida Muhammad of PTI, Secretary Power Division Irfan Ali said that Discos were facing a shortage of more than 53,000 staffers against a sanctioned strength of 171,341 owing to ban on fresh recruitments over the past few years.

He said a total of 96,790 regular employees were currently working in all 10 distribution companies while another 8,375 were contract employees and 3,011 were work charge staff.

These companies were put on the privatisation list in 2015 and their status still remained unchanged. Under the Privatisation Ordinance, the Privatisation Commission had stopped these companies from fresh hiring against vacant posts except critical staff on the technical side.

The government lifted the ban on recruitment of employees in grade 1-16 in December 2017, said Ali. The Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) moved a consolidated case for recruitment of 28,000 critical staff out of 53,000 vacant seats to the Establishment Division for NOC. He said the Establishment Division issued the NOC and the Privatisation Commission directed that inductions should be limited to one year contract.

The distribution companies started the process under procurement rules which was stalled after the Election Commission of Pakistan imposed a ban on recruitments because of elections.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2018