ISLAMABAD: A federal minister who once volunteered to ensure recovery of the entire electricity dues from defaulters has turned out to be one of the biggest defaulters and has not paid a single penny on this account over the past 56 months.
But unlike other domestic consumers who face disconnection if they do not pay their electricity bills on time, this gentleman who lives in the ‘Ministers’ Enclave’ continues to enjoy uninterrupted power supply.
According to electricity bills issued by the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco), Interior Minister Rehman Malik tops the list of federal ministers who have failed to clear their dues with amounting to Rs4.9 million. He has not paid his bills since moving to House 34 in the capital’s Ministers’ Enclave.
Till Feb 13 this year, arrears against his official residence stood at Rs4.75 million. His monthly bill for February alone is Rs153,788 which also is unpaid. The outstanding amount increased to Rs4.92 million which included a Rs12,000 late payment surcharge.
Under perks and privileges enjoyed by federal ministers and advisers, the federal government provides a monthly allowance of Rs24,000 and any excess has to be paid by the minister or adviser. But it appears that several ministers take the allowance but do not clear electricity bills.
Mr Malik’s average monthly bill for 56 months works out at about Rs89,000.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the total amount owned by government departments to distribution companies hovers around Rs170 billion.
On June 15, 2012, Mr Malik offered to a nine-member cabinet committee to give him an opportunity to recover all electricity arrears. “Leave it to me, I will sort them (discos) out and correct their system. I will ensure 100 per cent recovery and reduction in load shedding”, he had told the committee headed by then finance minister Hafeez Shaikh.
Perhaps the committee was aware of Mr Malik’s record and, therefore, did not accept his offer.
But Mr Malik is not the only minister among electricity bill defaulters. According to Iesco record, Bangalow-20, the residence of Haji Khuda Bakhsh, Minister for Narcotics Control, has not cleared electricity bills amounting to Rs1.07 million for 49 months.
Minister for Postal Services Umar Gorgeij who lives in House-33 has an outstanding amount of Rs1.96 million and he has not paid the bills for 38 months.
Sardar Bahadur Sher who lives in House-15 owes Rs677,357, but he has been making partial payments.
An amount of Rs587,259 is outstanding against the House No-30 where Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani lives, although he is making partial payments.
Dr Fahmida Mirza, the Speaker of National Assembly, has an outstanding amount of Rs381,266 against her residence No-28. She has not paid her bills for 13 months and made a partial payment of Rs69,227 in June last year.
An amount of Rs369,794 has been outstanding against Residence-19 of Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi for 13 months.
Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin owes Rs271,726 to Iesco and has not made any payment for more than 22 months.
Babar Khan Ghouri of MQM, Syed Naveed Qamar and Dr Asim Hussain are among few ministers who regularly pay their bills.