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Friday September 29, 2023

Ministries, institutions haven’t paid hefty power bills

There are 5 power supply points, or transmission lines, serving AJ&K, and 3 of these points account for over Rs60bn in unpaid dues

September 14, 2023
Power transmission poles can be seen in this picture. — AFP/File
Power transmission poles can be seen in this picture. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has intensified its efforts to combat power theft, but it turns out that several of its own ministries and departments owe substantial sums to the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco), amounting to a staggering Rs71.52 billion. Notably, the largest portion of this debt, Rs60.7 billion, is attributed to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) government.

Curiously, there are five power supply points, or transmission lines, serving the AJ&K, and three of these points account for over Rs60 billion in unpaid dues. Among these, the losses incurred at the Islamabad power supply point amount to Rs1.92 billion, while Jhelum stands at Rs26.91 billion, and the Rawalpindi cantonment point has outstanding dues of Rs31.88 billion.

Furthermore, both federal and provincial government entities, as well as semi-government institutions, are listed as electricity defaulters, according to official documents obtained by The News. Federal government institutions owe a total of Rs10.276 billion, while provincial government institutions have pending bills totaling Rs538 million.

Government institutions within the Iesco, Islamabad Circle, owe Rs7.948 billion, Rawalpindi City Circle has unpaid dues of Rs1.37 billion, Rawalpindi Cantonment Circle owes Rs3.52 billion, Jhelum Circle has outstanding bills totaling Rs2.722 billion, Chakwal Circle owes Rs39 million and Attock Circle owes Rs8 million.

Interestingly, the Prime Minister’s Secretariat owes Rs62 million, the Senate Chairman Rs71 million, the Chief Justice Rs7 million, and Parliament Lodges have pending dues of Rs119 million.

Under the federal government’s jurisdiction, a hospital owes Rs371 million, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has unpaid electricity bills of Rs3.81 billion, and the Islamabad High Court has outstanding dues of Rs10 million for electricity. The chief commissioner, Islamabad, also owes Rs76 million.

Additionally, the Federal Police owe Rs170 million, the Motorways Police Rs4 million, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) owes Rs27 million, and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) owes Rs10 million. The Federal Board of Revenue has unpaid bills of Rs37 million. Similarly, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) also owes Rs13 million and Military’s Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) owes Rs38 million.

The Auditor General of Pakistan’s office and Election Commission have unpaid bills of Rs5 million each and Wafaqi Mohtasib owes Rs3 million.

Similarly, the Ministry of Interior has outstanding electricity bills amounting to Rs112 million, the Ministry of Health Rs59 million, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rs9 million, the Ministry of Science and Technology Rs7 million, the Ministry of Federal Education Rs52 million, and the Haj & Auqaf owes Rs23 million. The Railways also did not pay Rs157 million, the Ministry of Food & Agriculture Rs7 million and the Ministry of Power has Rs3 million in unpaid electricity bills.

The Ministry of Sports and Culture owes Rs67 million, the Ministry of Local Government Rs21 million, the Planning and Development Ministry Rs11 million, the Ministry of Environment Rs23 million, the Post Office owes Rs10 million, the Pakistan Public Works Department (PWD) Rs221 million, the Directorate General of Special Education owes Rs14 million.

The Heavy Mechanical Complex (HMC) Taxila is a defaulter of Rs7 million, the National Highway Authority (NHA) Rs22 million, and Wapda’s GM Hydel Rs43 million. Additionally, Cantonment Board Jhelum is defaulter of Rs7 million, Cantonment Board Rawalpindi owes Rs253 million, Cantonment Board Attock Rs8 million, and Cantonment Board Chaklala owes a substantial Rs1.153 billion.

Among provincial departments, the Punjab Police default at Rs45 million, Punjab Jail & Convict Settlement Rs30 million, the Punjab Health & Welfare Department Rs28 million, and the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) has outstanding bills of Rs160 million. Similarly, Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) Murree has a debt of Rs32 million, and TMA Rawal Town has not paid Rs57 million in utility bills.

Meanwhile, in the nationwide campaign against power theft, the federal government has reported a recovery of less than a billion rupees thus far, with the majority of recovered amount being attributed to old dues rather than stolen electricity funds. Despite these efforts, there remain areas, particularly within high loss-making distribution companies, where the recovery rate lags significantly behind others, despite having the highest occurrences of power theft and other line losses. According to statistics shared by the Power Division Secretary Rashid Mahmood Langrial, in the past week alone, they managed to recover Rs796 million. On his Twitter account, he stated, “Crackdown on power theft and chronic default has started giving dividends: cumulative recovery has jumped from PKR 162 million to PKR 796 million; total persons arrested since 7th [September] is 454 while Pesco is still lagging behind, Qesco, Sepco and Hesco are picking up.”