ISLAMABAD: The federal government is likely to further tighten the noose around electricity thieves and defaulters by blocking their bank transactions and banning their travel abroad till clearance of outstanding dues and starting the campaign titled “name and shame” well-informed sources in Ministry of Interior told Business Recorder.
To address the challenges with respect to writ of the State, a re-invigorated campaign focused on ‘illegal spectrum’ is being undertaken by the government with full force, wherein, besides anti-smuggling measures, anti-power theft campaign is also being undertaken by the concerned stakeholders.
Power Distribution Companies (Discos) have recovered around Rs 50 billion which is just 4.5 per cent of the total recordable amount of Rs 1.05 trillion.
According to Secretary Power, Discos have also raised detection charges of Rs 5 billion plus. Most of the theft variance in large swathes of Indus plain is associated with cooling load and local sense of impunity. Therefore, as winter approaches, monthly payoff of the anti-theft campaign compared to previous year would fall as incentive for theft is otherwise not very high.
In this process Discos have arrested 29,541 delinquent consumers and 20 employees and suspended another 272 employees including officers till November.
The sources said that there is a strong feeling within the government that without concrete measures and “whole of government” approach, Rs 589 billion are likely to be added to the existing losses.
“Ratio of recovery of arrears is more as compared to the recovery of theft cases, electricity theft has been systemized, whereby, existing loopholes in the system, absence of deterrent
measures and connivance of government officials, are acting as catalyst for worsening/deterioration of situation,” the sources added.
Some quarters in government argue that there is a need to comprehensively review the ongoing campaign and new measures by the Ministry of Interior may be taken to deal with the situation: (i) innovative measures be introduced instead of orthodox approach; (ii) stringent measures be taken against employees involved in mal-practices, suspending the officials for short duration may not accrue the desired results; (ii) CNICs of defaulters be shared with Ministry of Interior for blocking bank transactions and ban on travel abroad till clearance of outstanding dues; and (iii) name and shame campaign be conducted against the defaulters in coordination with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023