Special courts to try and punish electricity thieves, says govt
Power Minister says govt is working on Electricity Theft Control Act: No cut in tariff until theft is eliminated: Discos workers found involved in theft face axe: Crackdown in areas where losses are high
By News Desk
September 6, 2023 03:02 PM
The interim government has announced that it is working on Electricity Theft Control Act aimed at curbing losses in the country and special courts will be erected to try and punish power thieves, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Addressing a joint news conference in Islamabad on Wednesday along with Information Minister Murtaza Solangi, Caretaker Minister for Energy, Power and Petroleum Muhammad Ali unveiled that the country sustains annual losses to the tune of Rs589 billion due to electricity theft and non-bill payment.
While announcing a string of measures to crush power theft, the minister said the government is working on Electricity Theft Control Act to curb transmission and distribution (T&D) losses in the country. said “We are working on an Electricity Theft Control Act, under which we would establish an enforcement infrastructure across the country. Similarly, special courts will be formed as well,” he added.
He further maintained “We target to finalise the draft of this law in two to three weeks, and move it for approval and implement it as an ordinance. We target to reduce the T&D losses as much as possible.”
The minister said there are 10 distribution companies (DISCOs) in the country, with K-Electric having its own distribution network. “Because of these losses, consumers who pay their electricity bills are charged higher rates. Unless electricity theft and non-payment of bills are controlled, the electricity tariff cannot be lowered,” he elaborated.
Ali said T&D losses sustained by distribution companies including IESCO, LESCO, GEPCO, FESCO and MEPCO stand at Rs100 billion out of a total billing of Rs3,044 billion, which shows a 3% loss. “On the other hand, T&D losses of PESCO, HESCO, QESCO, SEPCO, TESCO and AJK stood at Rs489 billion, out of total billing of Rs737 billion, which translates into 60% losses,” he added.
He said that due to a uniform electricity rate, customers of sound performing distribution companies are charged higher rates. “We have got all the data, and we will use it to take our next step. We will initiate crackdown in those areas, where electricity theft is higher,” he added.
The minister said the electricity act will be moved in the next two to three weeks and passed through a presidential ordinance. “We are aiming to stop or reduce power theft of Rs589 billion at the earliest,” he added.
The minister said authorities are initiating a crackdown against electricity theft and action will be taken against power thieves on the basis of data available to them.
Also also shared that a list of those power distribution companies’ officers involved in power theft has been compiled and action against them will be taken. The list of officers has been sent to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for their removal, he added.
He announced that the prime minister has issued directives to “crack down on power theft and ensure recovery from those who don’t pay bills”.
For this purpose, the government is taking various steps, he said. “Where theft is less, up to 30pc, we will curb it through technological intervention. Where the loss is 30-60pc, we are considering whether we should involve the private sector in management,” Ali said and added. “For areas where losses are above 60pc, we will take enforcement measures,” he said.
He also mentioned government plans to improve the management of Discos. “We are looking at their board of governors; we will make changes in those and the management,” he added.
Ali said the government has communicated with chief secretaries and police chiefs in provinces and “we have their full support in implementing these measures.”
He further said the government will be constituting taskforces at the provincial level which would be led by home secretaries and include provincial energy secretaries, a federal government officer and police officers. Similar taskforces will be led by commissioners at the divisional level, deputy commissioners at the district level and assistant commissioners at the tehsil level.
He said the operations to curb electricity theft will be monitored by his ministry from Islamabad. “We have established a control room and developed a dashboard at PPMC (Power Planning and Monitoring Company) to manage the performance of Discos on a day-to-day and hour-to-hour basis. We will monitor the operations from here but the implementation and execution will be carried out on ground at the provincial, district and tehsil level,” he explained.
In response to a question, the minister said work was also in progress on reducing capacity payments. But, he added, this cannot be achieved overnight and would take time.
Answering another question, Ali said the government was also considering the options of provincialisation and privatisation of Discos. “We will soon make a decision with the cabinet on which is the right way forward,” he added.