ISLAMABAD: The power ministry has claimed that as many as 34,000 electricity connections have been disconnected on non-payments of bills, prompting a special cabinet panel to direct an independent verification due to the ministry’s dubious record of taking action against defaulters.
The cabinet panel is headed by Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. The meeting was convened to review the implementation of Cabinet’s decisions with regard to the Power Sector Recovery Plan 2011 and was called after reports that the Water and Power Ministry was lagging behind in the targets set by the Cabinet for the power sector recovery.“In a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Restructuring of Power Sector (CCORP), the Ministry of Water and Power said that 34,000 connections have been disconnected on non-payments in three months and the recovery ratio has been gradually improving,” said an official handout of the Finance Ministry.
However, a cabinet minister told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity that the panel has directed the ministry to get an independent verification of the claim. The federal cabinet has recently decided to cut the power connections on non-payments of over 45 days.An amount of Rs142 billion is outstanding only against private individuals while government departments owe Rs80 billion to the defunct Pakistan Electric Power Company (now taken over by Central Power Purchasing Authority).
Another official who attended the meeting said that the Power Ministry briefed the committee that the distribution companies have managed to recover Rs3 billion from the private sector defaulters. The CCORP decided to call a separate meeting to decide whether to outsource metering, billing and collection of the electricity bills to reduce theft and improve collection.
The committee also grilled the Ministry of Water and Power for delaying the notification of four per cent increase in electricity prices, said the official. It directed the Ministry to take up the issue with the Ministry of Law and get the notification vetted on priority basis. The government has worked out 14% increase in electricity prices for the current years but there are apprehensions that a delay in notification may lead to further rise in prices.
The Ministry of Water and Power spokesman was not available to comment on the development.
The CCORP was informed that technical work on tariff determination has been completed and legal work was under process, stated the official handout.
Management issues, delay in appointments
The committee also showed dissatisfaction over delay in appointment of new chief executive officers of the power distribution companies. It was told that only Faisalabad Electricity Supply Company has shortlisted the names of candidates and other distribution companies have not shown any progress in this regard.
The committee directed the Water and Power Ministry to complete the process by December 15.The CCORP was also told that all financial and administrative functions of Pakistan Electric Power Company have been transferred to the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) and Central Power Purchase Agency (CPPA) on October 30, 2011 and CPPA has fully been operationalised.
The CCOR reviewed the decision on establishment of a professional joint/directorate in ministry of water and power to effectively manage policies of power sector. The finance minister asked the minister for petroleum and natural resources and secretary finance to conduct a separate detailed meeting in order to resolve all issues faced in establishing of the said directorate.
The committee discussed the load management and conversation programme in the context of closing markets at 10 pm and two holidays in a week and decided to involve the concerned department for proper implementation of said programme as the markets remain open till late night. – Thetribune