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Friday June 21, 2024

Minister warns Discos chairmen, CEOs over power theft

Minister made it clear that any employees or officers engaged in such illegal activities within the power sector would face decisive and stringent action

By Israr Khan
March 28, 2024
Federal Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari chairs a meeting on March 27, 2024. — Facebook/Awais Leghari
Federal Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari chairs a meeting on March 27, 2024. — Facebook/Awais Leghari

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari issued a stern warning to the chairmen and CEOs of power distribution companies (Discos) regarding electricity theft, emphasising its detrimental impact on the national economy.

The Minister made it clear that any employees or officers engaged in such illegal activities within the power sector would face decisive and stringent action.

In a virtual address, Minister Leghari labelled electricity theft ‘economic terrorism,’ emphasising its severe repercussions on the country’s economic stability. Federal Secretary of Power Division Rashid Mahmood Langrial also accompanied him.

The minister urged Discos officials to utilise technological advancements and innovative strategies to combat this menace and alleviate indiscriminate power outages, particularly those affecting law-abiding consumers.

Minister Leghari stressed the need to remove obstacles hindering anti-theft efforts and cautioned against any involvement in illegal activities by Discos employees and officers. He pledged firm and decisive action against the perpetrators.

Furthermore, Minister Leghari assured a nonpartisan approach in the anti-theft campaign, vowing decisions would be based solely on merit to ensure transparency and impartiality, without any political interference.

Instructing all Discos, Minister Leghari mandated the establishment of modern customer service centres nationwide and appointed competent officers to expedite the resolution of customer complaints. He emphasised the importance of consumer kindness, warning against mistreatment during the installation of new electricity connections.

Additionally, Minister Leghari directed Discos management to maintain meticulous financial records and compile detailed asset information, aiming to facilitate the concession and privatisation process through government directives.

The warning comes as the ballooning power sector circular debt reaches alarming levels, standing at Rs2.4 trillion by the conclusion of November 2023. The inefficiencies of power distribution companies have emerged as a significant burden on the financial health of the power sector, primarily due to their high losses and low bill recoveries.

The recently released State of Industry Report 2022-23 (SIR-2023) by NEPRA revealed that most DISCOs failed to meet Transmission and Distribution (T&D) loss targets, significantly contributing to the circular debt. Notable entities such as Pesco, Tesco, and Sepco reported substantial losses, collectively contributing an additional Rs160.49 billion to the circular debt. These shortcomings in power transmission and distribution are impeding the sustainable provision of energy services, resulting in elevated energy prices and amplified business costs.