Nepra’s reluctance

Published February 26, 2024

WHAT is the point in having a regulator that does not punish the entities it oversees for misconduct and transgressions, and that is unable to protect the consumers? It is distressing to watch the power sector regulator Nepra let Discos and K-Electric off the hook, without even issuing show-cause notices, let alone penalising them, for overcharging their unsuspecting consumers in July-August to show higher bill recoveries. Only a week ago, the regulator announced at a public hearing that it was dissatisfied with the Disco’s response to the excessive billing charges and would hold them accountable. It also declared that it had decided to issue formal show-cause notices to them. What changed Nepra’s mind between then and now remains a secret. Why it let the power distribution companies get away with this offence is hard to comprehend. Nepra has only asked them to ‘compensate their consumers’ through the upcoming bills to the extent of the additional burden — even though overbilling by Discos/ K-E, in the regulator’s own words, violates the provisions of the Nepra Act.

The inexplicable reluctance of the regulator to punish the power distributors has also made the ongoing ‘recovery campaign’ against defaulters and power thieves suspect, besides calling into question the integrity of the revenue streams of the Discos/ K-E, from meter-reading to billing, and faulty meters to penalties and the recoveries imposed by them. The biggest reputational hit is taken by Nepra itself, with power consumers questioning the very reason for its existence. Consumer complaints about overbilling by Discos are not uncommon. However, it was the massive scale of such complaints last summer that brought inflation-stricken consumers onto the streets in several cities and forced Nepra to take note of the practice. Its failure to take action against this illegal practice will only embolden the power entities further. If power consumers were to again suffer overbilling this year, the onus would be on the regulator itself.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Noshki killings
Updated 14 Apr, 2024

Noshki killings

It must be asked why Baloch separatists continue to target civilians as well as security men despite large deployment.
Upholding the law
14 Apr, 2024

Upholding the law

THE recent discord in Bahawalnagar offers a chance to reflect on the sanctity of the law and its enforcement across...
Tragic travels
14 Apr, 2024

Tragic travels

FOR those embarking on road and boat journeys, the probability of fatal accidents has seen a steady rise. The recent...
Security lapses
Updated 13 Apr, 2024

Security lapses

Ensuring the safety of foreign citizens is paramount, not just for diplomatic relations but for our economic future.
An eventful season
13 Apr, 2024

An eventful season

THE Senate chairman and deputy chairman were elected unopposed, and 41 new senators were sworn in on Tuesday,...
Living rough
13 Apr, 2024

Living rough

WE either don’t see them or don’t want to see them — not even when they are actively trying to get our...