At a time when National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has started criminal proceedings against electricity defaulters after the expiry of deadline given to them, the bureau expects more recovery as the total recovered amount had reached the figure of Rs 425 million.
“We have recovered more money even after the expiry of April 19 deadline and the recovered amount that stood around Rs 375 million at the cut off date has now reached up to around Rs 425 million,” a senior official of the bureau said.The official said that more recovery was expected because the power defaulters were contacting the bureau to avoid arrests. “We have arrested 12 power defaulters from NAB Lahore Region,” he added.NAB spokesman Ramzan Sajid confirmed that the bureau had started arrests of power defaulters after initiating criminal proceedings against them under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999.
“We had approached the provincial governments to seek the help of provincial police authorities to arrest power defaulters and I hope that recovery would improve in the next,” he said.Earlier, NAB had written a letter to the chief secretaries as well as IGPs of all the four provinces and Chief Commissioner Islamabad seeking their help in connection with the arrest of power defaulters.The bureau had informed that criminal proceedings were being started against the power defaulters under NAO 1999 on the request of the federal government through Ministry of Water and Power.
In this regard, NAB had given a 30-day notice for voluntary return of outstanding dues in the print and electronic media till April 19.NAB had initiated the drive on March 19 asking the power defaulters to pay the outstanding dues till April 4 other wise their names would be made public and arrests would be started after April 19.NAB also expects that the issue of contentious bills would also be sorted out during this phase and the alleged connivance, if any, of employees of power distribution companies (Discos) could also be pointed out in over-billing or power theft.
The NAB official said that a number of defaulters had approached the bureau whose cases were under dispute with Discos and best efforts were being made to resolve the controversies.At initial stage, Water and Power Ministry had handed over defaulted cases to NAB amounting to Rs 110 billion, however, at later stage, the bureau pointed out that the Discos had handed over many contentious bills to it and the amount was re-estimated that stood at Rs 77 billion.Till the expiry of deadline, the bureau had received a poor response as Rs375 million of the total defaulted amounts had recovered out of Rs 77 billion and out of the list of total 63,254 across the country; only 2,000 had paid their dues.
The government had asked the NAB to initiate drive after the Minister of Water and Power had pin pointed it that non-recovery of outstanding power dues was the major cause of circular debt and ultimately load shedding.After April 19, NAB had also directed power Discos to disconnect the electricity connections of defaulters, and had warned that failure would attract punitive action against officers/officials of Discos under NAO 1999. In view of the decision of Lahore High Court (LHC), these instructions do not apply on consumers / defaulters of LESCO till the decision of the honourable Court, the bureau had stated. – Nation