Caretaker govt forms inquiry committee to further probe Nepra’s investigation

Illegal and unlawful overbilling by power distribution companies

ISLAMABAD-Instead of taking action against the power distribution companies (Discos) involved in illegal & unlawful overbilling of millions of consumers, in the light of Nepra’s inquiry report, the caretaker government, while showing dissatisfaction over the findings, has constituted an inquiry committee to further probe the regulator’s investigation and question members of the inquiry committee that finalised the report.
The Power Division (Ministry of Energy) has constituted a four-member committee, which consists of the former officials of the Power Division, to further probe the Nepra’s inquiry report in overbilling of millions of consumers and submit a report within 15 days, said a notification issued by Power Division here Wednesday. The inquiry committee was constituted after the Discos showed complete dissatisfaction on the findings of the regulator’s inquiry and challenged the data that formed the basis for NEPRA Report. The federal secretary, Ministry of Energy (Power Division), while taking cognizance of the matter has ordered a formal inquiry into the matter and thereby has constituted an independent and impartial committee. 
Interestingly, the committee which has been declared impartial by the Power Division is headed by former Secretary Power Division, Irfan Ali, as convener, while former Joint Secretary Power Division & incumbent Managing Director, NESPAK, Zargham Ishaq Khan, former Managing Director Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA-G) Abid Lodhi, and former Managing Director National Transmission and Despatch Company and sitting Director Energy Institute, LUMS Dr. Fiaz Chaudhry, are members.
Saqib Jamal, General Manager, PPMC shall act as the secretary to the Committee and NESPAK shall provide all necessary secretarial and logistic services for the conduct of this inquiry. In its inquiry report, Nepra while holding the Discos and K-Electric responsible for charging excessive bills to millions of consumers during July-August 2023 by adopting illegal & unlawful practices, recommended to correct the inflated bills within one billing cycle along with taking legal action against them.
According to the notification, NEPRA on 4th December 2023 published an Inquiry Report on the Matter of Excessive Billing by DISCOs (July-2023 & August-2023) which transpires that various distribution companies (DISCOs) have knowingly and deliberately charged excessive bills/detection bills to the consumers for the months of July and August of 2023 by adopting illegal and unlawful practices, prima facie, in violation of Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act, 1997 (the “Act”) and regulations made there under especially Consumer Service Manual, Terms & Conditions of Tariff and other applicable documents, etc.
Ministry of Energy (Power Division) considering the gravity of the matter that may undermine policy objective of the federal government immediately called upon the management of DISCOs to account for the findings of the NEPRA Report. The concerned DISCOs not only have challenged the data and information that form the basis for NEPRA Report but have also showed complete dissatisfaction on the findings therein.
The findings of the NEPRA Report and concerned Discos’ position thereon is so grave and serious that if veracity thereof is not established through an independent and impartial inquiry by the inquiry committee and if so established remedial measures are not timely taken, it will not only damage the power sector in general but will also be seen as failure of policy objectives of the federal government at the peril of losing public trust. The Committee shall submit its detailed report within 15 days from the date of issuance of this office order issued on December 6, 2023.

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