ISLAMABAD-A Senate panel was Thursday informed that in the ongoing drive against electricity theft and recoveries of dues, the power distribution companies (Discos) have recovered only Rs1 billion out of total dues of Rs589 billion during the last one week.
Chairman Standing Committee on Power Saifullah Abro said former Secretary Power Ali Raza Bhutta and the current secretary Rashid Langriyal have failed to improve the performance of the power sector but no reshuffle was made in the Power Division. The Senate Standing Committee on Power, which met under Senator Saifullah Abro in chair, expressed displeasure over the absence of the Chairman, NEPRA and its members and decided to issue summon for chairman NEPRA and all its members to attend next meeting.
Additional Secretary, Power Division, Arshad Majid apprised that approximately around Rs1 billion worth of recovery has been made in the last few days and the Power Division has also reshuffled the officers of various Discos to ensure its efficiency. Chairman Committee Senator Saifullah Abro stated that the Power Division should also reshuffle CEOs of Discos and BoDs of various power sector entities. The committee supported the crackdown against electricity theft. “For the first time, we’ve seen something happen to meter supply and recovery.”
Additional Secretary said that Discos were told to take strict steps to recover Rs 589 billion dues. In the first four days, the performance of Discos was disappointing and only Rs 25 million were recovered. Then strict action was taken against the discos and in the next three days the recovery has increased to Rs 1 billion rupees. PESCO chief executive officer was removed yesterday, as he failed to increase recovery. Eight officers of IESCO have been suspended, while an officer of Sukkur Electric Supply Company was handed over to FIA for corruption. “Who is responsible for this disaster, why the ministry was asleep earlier,” Saifullah Abro said. Federal Secretary Power does not have the courage to come to this meeting and tell the details, Abro remarked. The Committee inquired about the government stance on KAPCO Power Plant, whose contract expired in June 2021 with IPP’s. Senator Saifullah Abro asked for clarification on how many years the gas and RFO has been provided to KAPCO Power Plant. However, the Power Division failed to provide a response. He recommended that the Power Division should investigate allegations of illegal extension for KAPCO Power Plant. Furthermore, chairman Committee lamented the Power Division for shutdown of the Muzaffargarh and Jamshoro power plants and for not supplying them with sufficient gas.
The committee was informed by the official of the Power Division that there are 136 IPPs in the country and 16 of them were installed under China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Senator Saifullah Abro said Kot Addu Power Company (KAPCO) Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) expired in June 2021 but was secretly extended. Senator Saifullah Abro grilled the power sector for allegedly extending undue favour to the company, despite expiry of its PPA. “At the time of extension of the agreement it was our (PTI) government,” he said. Chairman Committee said that action should be taken against the then Minister of Power, Secretary Power and other officers for the illegal extension of KAPCO agreemnt. Action should also be taken against CPPA and Nepra officials as well, he said. If action is taken against the minister, secretary and other officials, then this will never happen in the future, Abro reiterated.
Regarding the expiry of the IPPs contract, the committee was informed that only one 1245MW IPP has completed its contract. Chief Executive Officer CPPA-G said that this plant was set up by WAPDA which was later sold. The plant had a 25-year contract, he added. Saifullah Abro said that the contract of this plant was extended by 16 months, which was illegal. However, the CPPA-G official said that the extension was approved by the federal cabinet. “Who sent the summary of the extension to the federal cabinet?” Senator Abro asked. The CPPA-G official responded that Power Division had sent a summary in this regard. Chairman of the Committee asked that why the state owned plant of Muzaffargarh was not operated on gas?. Official of the CPPA said that it was inefficient plant and only high efficiency plants run on merit order. Arbo said that government plants are kept closed in the name of efficiency. KAPCO’s PPA extension is a big scam of Power Division, Abro maintained.
Abro said that the state owned power plants of Muzaffargarh and Jamshoro were deliberately shut down to create space for the IPP. No steps have been taken to restore government plants, he added. CPPA official said that on gas Muzaffargarh was ranked 32 on the merit order while KAPCO was at 15. Both these plants were on local gas and gas was not available, therefore KAPCO was operated on RLNG. Abro replied that the division prioritized running private power plants instead of its own plants. Senator Bahramand Tangi commented that the incompetence of the Power Division is the root cause of our problems. He said that surplus gas was available before the advent of IPPs. Power Division has a big hand in the destruction of power sector.