ISLAMABAD - Moving at a snail’s pace, the government has recovered only Rs3 billion in the ongoing drive against electricity theft/recoveries, as it seems hesitant to move against big defaulters/power thieves or high officials of the Power Division and Discos.
“In the last two days, collected more than Rs2 billion compared with one billion rupees in the first 8 days of the campaign,” said Secretary Power Division Rashid Langryal in his tweet yesterday.
The secretary also asked for critical feedback saying that “it helps us adjust our implementation strategy.”
The first feedback came from the Power Division, where a source told The Nation that with the existing setup in the Power Division and the headquarters of power distribution companies (Discos), the success of the ongoing drive against thefts and recoveries seems doubtful. Therefore, massive reshuffle is required in the Power Division and Discos for successful anti-theft and recoveries drive, the source added. Of the total Rs 589 billion dues, in the first nine days of the anti-theft/recoveries drive only Rs 3 billion have been recovered so far. The ratio of recovery is slow as compared to the volume of dues and thefts. In 2022-23, Discos had incurred losses of over Rs 838 billion which include Rs 533.52 billion of transmission and distribution losses on account of losses/theft and approximately Rs 305 billion on account of under recoveries.
The reason for the slow pace of the drive is that the government has so far targeted only small culprits and field level employees of the Discos. By moving against the field staff of Discos, the impression is being given that they are the main reason for the huge theft and under recoveries in the power sector, and the management had no role in it. Similarly, the same management are at the driving seat of the ongoing anti-theft/recoveries campaign of the interim government, under whose nose rampant corruption, inefficiency, and thefts were taking place.
The government has removed only officials of grade 19 and below of Discos, for their alleged involvement in thefts or due to inefficiency.
So far only one high official of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) level has been removed from his post, while the BoDs of Discos and high officials in the Power Division are still intact. CEO Peshawar Electric Power Regulatory Authority (PESCO) was removed last week, allegedly for his failure to move against the power defaulters. However, the source said that the removal of the CEO Pesco was planned earlier and has been implemented on the pretext of poor performance. The CEO of Tribal Electric Supply Company (Tesco) has been handed over the charge of Pesco. Interestingly, none of the officials of the Power Division or Board of Directors (BoD) of the power distribution companies has been reshuffled during the ongoing drive against anti-theft and recoveries. Secretary Power Division Rashid Langriyal, who is leading the current drive, is serving in the Power Division for the last about one and a half years, the source said and added that this is true regarding majority of the officers sitting in Power Division and Discos. The existing setup of top management both in the Ministry of Energy and Discos have played the role of silent spectator, if not accomplice, by turning a blind eye to the destruction of the power sector, the source said.