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Wednesday October 27, 2021

Bribe must for new electricity connection: survey

October 02, 2021
Bribe must for new electricity connection: survey

ISLAMABAD: “Bribe or live without electricity,” says a PIDE research paper about getting a new power connection. The whole procedure that legally costs less than Rs18,000 can go up to hundreds of thousands of rupees as bribe to speed up installment by electricity agency workers.

When contacted, PRO Power Ministry Muhammad Ismail said that the government had launched a Roshan Pakistan website and applicants could register their complaints over there against bribery or any malicious deed done either by the lineman, surveyor or any other worker. The web portal works 24/7 and is also responsive, said Ismail.

He maintained that bribery is present in every sector and unless we report it, it won’t go away. “This is the reason why Roshan Pakistan has been launched', said Ismail. “It takes over two months for a person to get a new electricity connection and it could further escalate if one doesn’t bribe surveyors or agency members tasked for the specific job, says the research done by Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.

Sluggish application processing (in absence of bribe) has been identified as the major problem. There should be checks and balances, notes the PIDE research published on Sept 21, 2021.

PIDE is an autonomous research organisation that works under the Planning, Development and Reforms Ministry. PIDE research identified six challenges faced by an applicant in getting a new electricity connection including long processing procedures, excessive documentation, complex procedures, and high opportunity cost for an applicant if speed money (bribe) is not there.

The research has also revealed the level of fatigue and stress that a person has to go through while doing extensive file work. A total estimated cost of getting a new electricity connection in Pakistan, according to the research, is Rs17,700 while the time it takes to be in place is at least 62 days. On an average, of the total stress level of five, an applicant mostly goes through half of it while struggling to get a new electricity connection.

In rural areas, if new connection requires installation of two new electricity poles and 160 meter of wire, its official fee is around Rs35,000. But the surveyor will not clear the application until one agrees to pay Rs150,000 to Rs200,000. Hence if one doesn’t bribe, one has to live without electricity. In case if there is an 11kv transmission and installation of a new transformer is required, one has to pay around Rs400,000 in bribe.

Preparing documents is a hassle but the worst part is their processing by the officials concerned. Prior to issuance of a demand notice, the file requires signatures of many officials and a survey of an applicant’s property site.

Either the applicant has to bribe the officials or he/she personally has to come to the office from time to time to move the file from one officer to another. In urban areas, it is relatively easy to get a new electricity connection but in rural areas, it is quite difficult if the 220 volt wire is not passing through the area.

The research recommends some steps to eliminate unnecessary bottlenecks. It suggests requirements like an attested CNIC copy of an applicant, an attested copy of a witness’ CNIC and a neighbour’s electricity bill are redundant once the department has access to Nadra record. Therefore, Nadra access must be granted to all government offices. Requirement of a property document commonly called fard can also be ended if electricity distribution companies are given access to the online land or property ownership record. Wrongdoings of linemen have also been highlighted in the research.