Pesco's incentive package fails to attract defaulters
The lack of proper awareness campaign through in media and different forums of society resulted in poor response to the much triumphant incentive package announced by Peshawar Electricity Supply Company (Pesco) for power defaulters.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2013
This has been stated in a policy paper prepared by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Peoples' Empowerment and Consulting Enterprise (PEACE) on the performance of the power distribution company.
PEACE is implementing one year USAID funded project with technical assistance of Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA) and The Asia Foundation (TAF). One of the objectives of the project is to review, analyse, the existing power sector policies and present policy recommendations to the decision makers.
The incentive package was announced in December 2012, under which the company waived off arrears and dues and provided an opportunity to consumers to take benefit of the scheme and deposit the required portion of the outstanding dues. The company though had waived off 70 percent of the dues, but even then less than 1 percent such consumers had deposited their dues.
The policy paper said Pesco like other Discos is facing two major problems. The first one is non-recovery of arrears on the part of consumers. On December 31, 2012, the sum of Rs 56111.5 million was outstanding against public sector consumers while the arrears to the tone of Rs 49216.5 million were against the private sector consumers. The pool of money instead of decreasing, is increasing @ Rs12,000,000 per month.
The second problem is of transmission and distribution (T&D) losses. The T&D losses of Pesco were 36% in the fiscal year 2011-12 and accumulatively, Pesco losses as on June 30, 2012 were Rs 117.67 billion. So a company, which is supposed to contribute to national exchequer, has become a liability for the country.
The real cause of non-payment of arrears and usage of illegal connections is the huge gap between communities and the service providers. Communities do not have trust in Pesco and the consumers feel shy and are hesitant to go to complaint office for resolving their complaints.
For turning the Pesco into a profitable organisation, the policy paper called for engaging consumers and communities' representatives. They should be educated about the ways the decisions are taken at least at circle and sub-divisional levels and why those decisions are taken. Unless the trust of the consumers is gained, they will not cooperate and will continue their malpractices.
The policy paper has also identified poor community participation in power sector and had neither given representation in Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the distribution companies nor in any policy document. The advocacy forum established by the organisation is consisting of civil society members,, which stressed need for guaranteeing community participation at both circle and sub-divisional level.
Moreover, it also advocates for the establishment of a social mobilisation unit in Discos and its function will be narrow the communication gap between communities and Pesco and appointment of a social mobilisation manager at circle level and a team of social mobilisation officers at sub-divisional level.