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ISLAMABAD: The Power Division is said to have prepared a plan to deploy troops of Civil Armed Force (Rangers, FC) in power Distribution companies (Discos). Although the troops have been deployed to buttress the presence of the police posted at the Discos to check the theft across the country but their presence would also help in countering any resistance from employees against privatization, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

However, there is still a dispute between Power Division and Interior Division on the expenditure to be incurred on the Civil Armed Forces. Civil Armed Forces constitute a group of nine paramilitary uniformed organisations, separate and distinct from the regular “military” Pakistan Armed Forces. The government has already finalised its plan to privatise Punjab based Discos whereas other Discos will be given on the basis of Management control.

According to a communication, sent by Section Officer (Rangers) Ministry of Interior, Dr G M Mahmoodi, he has been directed to refer to the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) request on “deployment of Civil Armed Force in order to strengthen the local Police in handling the anti- electricity theft” and to state that as per policy in vogue the requisitioning agency will bear will the expenses of entire deployment period including international security allowance to the deployed troops.

The sources said, Ministry of Interior has asked Power Division to seek consent of the concerned DISCOs for the said payment so that the deployment may be carried out after approval of the Federal Cabinet.

The top brass of Power Division recently succeeded in getting issuance of an Ordinance meant to show the door to Boards of Discos, after failing to secure approval of Cabinet Committee on State Owned Entities (CCoSOEs).

The current SOEs Act had the approval of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, which the government could not alter merely to sack Boards of Discos.

Some of the Board members were approached with the request to tender resignation and offer their induction in new Boards, but after their refusal, an Ordinance was promulgated days before the sessions of National Assembly and Senate.

The Power Division, sources said, Finance Division did not take it on board before finalization of new SOEs Act as after its application all powers were given to the Boards including appointment of Chief Executives Officers (CEOs).

Previously, Finance Division had opposed Power Division’s proposal regarding establishment of Performance Management Units (PMUs) in loss-making power Distribution Companies under senior army officers (brigadiers), arguing it will further deteriorate governance within Discos.

Finance Division, in its comments on Ministry of Energy’s (Power Division) Office Memorandum of November 10, 2023 had stated that the proposal contained in the draft summary for the Federal Cabinet regarding establishing of performance Management Units headed by a BS-20 officer of Pakistan Army and manned by officers from Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and intelligence agencies has not been endorsed, the sources added.This proposal, sources said, had also been resisted at the level of Federal Cabinet on the arguments that any such step would bring bad name to the Armed Forces.

The government approved attachment of FIA’s officers in 10 DISCOs to extend support to the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in the anti-theft and recovery drive. However, disputes have been reported between FIA officials and DISCO staff for a variety of reasons including corruption and theft.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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