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Tuesday November 29, 2022

PAC for abolishing free electricity provision to Discos officials

The PAC recommended abolishing the provision of free electricity to officers and employees of Power Distribution Companies by adjusting the price of free units in their salaries

June 24, 2022
PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan. Photo: The News/File
PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan. Photo: The News/File

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recommended abolishing the provision of free electricity to officers and employees of Power Distribution Companies by adjusting the price of free units in their salaries.

PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan, while expressing resentment over the absence of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of K-Electric from the committee meeting, directed that if he (CEO) does not come to the next meeting, then he should be arrested for bringing him to the committee's meeting. “The people of Karachi are suffering and they are not taking the PAC seriously,” he remarked.

The PAC meeting was presided over by its Chairman Noor Alam Khan in which the audit paras of the Ministry of Communication for the year 2019-20 were presented and a briefing on the power sector from the Energy Ministry was held.

Taking notice of free provision of electricity to employees of the Distribution Companies (Discos), the PAC recommended abolishing the free electricity facility for all employees of the power department and said that the number of units provided to the power employees for free should be added to their salary, but free electricity should not be given to them.

Noor Alam Khan Noor said that children of employees of power distribution companies should be given priority for jobs but free electricity should not be given to anyone. Secretary Ministry of Energy said if free units to power employees were completely abolished, then panic would spread among them. Noor Alam Khan said if a person earns Rs15,000 and pays the electricity bill, why not the employees of power companies? PAC member Dr Ramesh Kumar said there was no need to be blackmailed by any union.

The secretary of Ministry of Energy suggested that free units should be included in salary of all the power employees who get it, when free units are unavailable as electricity cannot be sold or stolen. The PAC accepted the suggestion of the secretary Ministry of Energy and recommended abolishing provision of free electricity to employees of Power Distribution Companies (DISCOs) by adjusting the price of free units in their salaries

Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan inquired about the cost of provision of free electricity to employees of power distribution companies and sought a detailed report on it. During a briefing to the committee, Secretary Power Division told the committee that last year, the power system had sustained a loss of Rs1 trillion (Rs1,100 billion) and will lose Rs2 trillion next year. “The reason for the loss is non-recovery,” he said, adding that 8 million consumers are getting electricity subsidies from the government. The secretary asked how would the power sector meet its cost if subsidy would be given to two-thirds of consumers.

The report of the recovery made during the campaign against power theft in the country was presented in PAC according to which from July 2021 to June 20, 2022, bills amounting to Rs4.67 billion were recovered and recovery was made by 10 electricity distribution companies.

About the absence of the CEO of K-Electric, Chief Financial Officer K-Electric told the committee that he had gone to the Prime Minister's Office for a meeting on energy to be chaired by the prime minister. Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan said that the CEO knows how important this forum is. “If the CEO of K-Electric does not come to the next meeting, his warrants should be issued for bringing him to the meeting,” he directed.

The issue of unannounced loadshedding across the country was discussed in the PAC meeting and members of the committee blasted the power companies for power outages. PAC member Dr Ramesh Kumar said that he resides in Chak Shehzad, Islamabad, where the span of loadshading was eight hours. Noor Alam Khan lamented that the power outages problem was also faced in the Parliament Lodges for many hours. The officials told the committee that loadshedding was high in areas where theft cases were high.

PAC Member Senator Shibli Faraz opposed sharing of information given to the PAC with the media while objecting that we should not give anything to the media without considering it here. “Yesterday, a document was given to the media whose case is still in the court,” he said.

The chairman PAC, while mentioning the letter of Tayyaba Gul, said that he would allow both the petitioners and the accused to appear before the committee. Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan said he wanted live coverage of the PAC, so that people could themselves judge what their members were doing.

After getting the views of members of the committee, he held voting for sharing the reports with the media, and the majority vote was in favour of sharing the reports. Examining the audit paras related to the Ministry of Communication and its attached departments for the financial year 2019-20, the committee expressed its displeasure over the poor condition of motorways and highways and convened a separate meeting on it. The PAC also sought a report from the National Highway Authority about the toll plaza within a week and Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan said that a detailed report should be given about the distance on which the toll was received.

Noor Alam Khan said that CPEC Western Route Motorway has just been built and rough patches have started appearing on it. “N-5 (GT Road) Road should be named Death Road," he remarked.

Senator Talha Mehmood objected that there was no place for eating and drinking at petrol pumps on Hakla-D I Khan Motorway, and where bridges exist, there are jumps on the road which cause accidents. The communications secretary informed the committee that complete payment to the contractor of Hakla-DI Khan Motorway has not been made yet and work was still in progress.

Chairman PAC Noor Alam Khan said if any constructions have been made against the agreement on motorways, they should be regularised and if the food points were available there, let them be there for the convenience of people. The PAC said that everything on motorways is very expensive, and directed the district and provincial governments to control price hikes on these spots.

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