KARACHI: Sindh Governor Imran Ismail on Wednesday expressed anger over complaints of “extortive billing” by K-Electric in the name of average billing and asked the power utility to facilitate people in these challenging times instead of increasing their difficulties.

A statement said that Governor Ismail held a meeting at Governor House with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of K-Electric Monis Abdullah here and put before him the complaints of consumers of average billing.

In a related development, KE said that in “response to public demands”, the utility has decided to resume meter reading in select areas of the city on Thursday (today).

“The governor expressed resentment on average billing by K-Electric, saying that the average billing is injustice to the people of Karachi and the federal government would not allow this practice,” said the Governor House statement.

“The governor and the KE chief discussed the difficulties of the poor section of society due to average billing, facilitation in payment of bills while ensuring smooth and continuous supply of electricity.”

Mr Abdullah of KE, the statement said, assured the Sindh governor that the power utility would not carry out average billing and the consumers would be issued bills for the month of April on the basis of meter reading.

The consumers, the statement quoting the KE chief said, who had received the bills would be offered option to pay the average bill or not, as his company would not take any action or impose penalty.

Meanwhile, Sindh Minister for Information and Local Government Syed Nasir Hussain Shah also urged KE to provide relief to its consumers.

In a statement the minister thanked the KE for providing continuous supply during the lockdown and asked the company to prepare the least average bills for its users.

Mr Shah said that the Sindh government had passed the instructions to private business entities for providing complete salaries to their staff and also not to fire any one from their jobs during the current situation.

Meanwhile the KE said that “the power utility has taken this step in consultation with the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority after considering customers’ demands.”

“Over the next few days, the KE will issue April 2020 bills. Consumers need not pay their bills issued for March under the average billing mode. If some consumers have already paid their bills, they will be adjusted with actual meter readings in the bill for the month of April. For areas where the utility is unable to resume meter reading, customers will continue to receive their bills under the revised average billing mode on an interim basis.”

The KE said that it had implemented ‘relief measures’ in the shape of due date extension for bills below Rs4,000 along with the option of deferred payment via instalments over three months to residential single-phase customers consuming less than 300 units a month.

The measure was announced as part of relief efforts under way in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

The KE also decided to continue said instalments for April’s bill as well, it added.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2020