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LAHORE: The burden of overheads of the distribution companies (DISCOs) is adding to the misery of the electricity consumers as the regulator passes it on to the consumers as a ‘necessary cost’, said power sector sources.

While quoting an example, they said, there are 21 officers of BPS-20 in the Lahore electric supply company (Lesco) at present. The Lahore region was once run by one officer of BPS-20 along with a Chief Engineer (CE), they added.

The sources said the cost of all such overburdens is being shifted to consumers by the regulator, causing steep rise in per unit cost of electricity.

One former power sector technocrat recalled that he was part of a power sector delegation to India to visit North Delhi Power Ltd. (NDPL), owned by the Tata group after privatization. He said the office of the company was set up at a two-storey building with a 66kV grid in the basement.

In other words, he said, the company’s head office was erected on a grid station because the Indian regulator had not allowed passing on the construction cost of the building to the Indian electricity consumers.

According to the sources, the electricity consumers in the Lesco region are bearing the cost of all the expenses of 21 officers of BPS-20. When pointed out that the Privatization Commission (PC) has sought some actions from the government to streamline participation of private sector in management of Discos, they said, it is welcoming sign as most of the private sector electricity professionals are strong proponents of the proposal, as they can run these companies in a better way while cutting down the overhead charges.

It may be noted that the Ministry of Privatization in May 2021 had submitted a summary before the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP) for affirmation of the scope of “private sector participation in management of DISCOs,” as per the recommendations of the Working Group comprising senior officials from Power Division, the Nepra, the World Bank and the Privatization Commission.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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