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ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to launch crackdown across the country against electricity theft, along with removal of corrupt and politically affiliated officers and change incumbent boards of power Distribution Companies.

This was announced by caretaker Minister for Energy, Muhammad Ali, flanked by caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Murtaza Solangi and Secretary Power, Rashid Mahmood Langrial at a press conference. Minister for Energy said there are ten distribution companies in Pakistan which are facing a total loss of Rs 589 billion annually, adding that theft and non-payment of electricity bills are the major causes of this huge loss.

The minister said the government has planned a comprehensive three-pronged strategy to deal with the issue of power theft. Task Forces will be set up at provincial level headed by Secretaries of Energy Department provinces to monitor performance of distribution companies. A control room is also being established at Power Planning and Monitoring Company (PPMC) for online monitoring of Discos performance.

Power sector woes: caretaker PM Kakar orders immediate action against electricity theft

“Power consumers have to carry the burden of those who steal electricity; electricity prices cannot be reduced until the elimination of power theft,” he said adding that special courts will be established to hear case of electricity thieves.

The Minister ruled out any relief in the bills to consumers until improvement in recovery and reduction in losses.

According to proposed strategy, technological interventions will be made in the areas where electricity theft is 15 to 30 percent, total impact of which is Rs 126 billion. The government will install AMI meters (10,689,318) and transfer metering (124,611). For this, an investment of Rs 368 billion will be required at 2,588 feeders (23 per cent).

Secondly, involvement of private sector will be ensured in the management where electricity theft is between the range of 30.1 to 60 percent i.e. 1,249 feeders (11 per cent). An investment of Rs 140 billion will be required for this purpose.

First round of bidding received no response and now next round is being planned. World Bank has been requested for provision of hedge fund to mitigate the initial risk of the first mover in the private sector.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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