Senators grill power division on high tariffs, inefficiencies – Pakistan


Senator Saifullah Abro, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Power Presiding over a Meeting of The Committee at Parliament Lodges, Islamabad. — Senate

• Standing committee seeks client-centric reforms, one-slab profit for customers amid skyrocketing payments
• Questions lopsided agreements with IPPs, seeks their re-analysis
• IMF not stopping you from curbing theft, losses, PPP lawmaker tells officers

ISLAMABAD: The power division, together with its subsidiary firms, got here underneath sharp criticism from senators on Tuesday for ongoing inefficiencies, rampant theft and important losses within the sector, at a time when such shortcomings have led to skyrocketing electrical energy payments, adversely affecting customers and fuelling protests throughout the nation.

In a gathering of the Senate Stan­ding Committee on Power, presi­ded over by its chairman Senator Saifullah Abro, senators proposed a one-slab profit for all residential customers. They insisted that these consuming lower than 200 models month-to-month ought to stay shielded from tariff hikes, even when their consumption exceeds the brink for a month or so.

The panel members additionally sought a re-analysis of tariffs set with ind­ependent power producers (IPPs), which they stated had been gaining considerably from the rupee’s depreciation on account of unfavourable agreements.

During the assembly, the power division representatives pointed in the direction of the Ministry of Finance’s interactions with the International Monetary Fund concerning any potential aid to the customers and argued that the federal government, together with the power division, was required to observe IMF situations.

However, the senators highlighted that the IMF by no means restricted them from curbing losses, theft and inefficiencies.

“Don’t attempt to blame the IMF,” Senator Behramand Tangi asserted. “The IMF just isn’t stopping you from decreasing theft and losses. Power firms’ workers are concerned in corruption and no person is there to examine them.”

Senator Abro, the committee head, agreed that the worldwide lender was being dragged into the matter, however the reality was that the power division had failed to manage theft in power distribution firms.

The power division crew, comprising further secretaries Arshad Majeed and Zaffar Abbas and Joint Secretary Mehfooz Bhatti, advised the assembly that customers utilizing lower than 200 models for six consecutive months fall underneath the “protected class” and their charges haven’t modified.

However, senators challenged this, suggesting that customers shouldn’t be penalised for exceeding this restrict, and solely further models above 200 must be charged at the next price of the subsequent slab.

The committee unanimously really helpful that every one home customers must be given the good thing about one decrease slab, because it was once the case, to supply aid to customers.

Senator Abro insisted that the one solution to deal with the prevailing unrest and a civil disobedience-like state of affairs was to make efforts to overview the agreements with IPPs intimately and re-consider tariffs as per the authorized framework.

He stated that IPPs mustn’t work independently with out monitoring, because it results in over-invoicing. He stated the whole infrastructure wanted re-examination and overview based mostly on clauses of misinformation and fraud.

The panel’s considerations had been additional exacerbated by the lack of power division officers to supply a decade-lengthy breakdown of IPP funds. The senators noticed that the impartial power producers had been on the centre of the continuing power disaster, which was why their points and knowledge must be on the fingertips of power division officers.

The committee members stated the folks of Pakistan would by no means get aid till unqualified officers remained posted within the power division.

The Senate panel additionally inquired concerning the breakdown of the 44,943-megawatt put in capability and why a most of 26,000 MW may very well be utilised. However, the power division officers didn’t fulfill the committee after they stated the put in capability should at all times be double the utmost capability.

The senators had been knowledgeable that the 2022-23 tariff changes didn’t have an effect on 63.5 per cent of home customers. However, 31.6pc customers skilled a Rs3 to Rs6.5 per unit spike and a mere 4.9pc noticed a hike of Rs7.5 per unit. On common, home customers confronted a rise of Rs3.82 per unit, whereas different classes noticed a Rs7.5 per unit rise.

The committee expressed frustration over the power division’s convoluted insurance policies and known as for extra clear and consumer-pleasant initiatives, particularly for the weak populace. They additionally advocated for consciousness campaigns detailing any aid measures.

Published in Dawn, September sixth, 2023

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