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Honest team required to implement laws, check electricity theft: experts

There is a need to establish an Executive Engineers (XENs) level honest team in PEPCO and empower them to initiate actions against electricity thieves. It would implement the laws which have already been there since 1910. Besides the political will, the honest team and good governance are also required for the implementation of rule of law.

These views were expressed by the discussants in Jang Economic Session held on ‘Proposed Electricity Theft Act – How to Implement It?’, here on Tuesday. The panelists were former WAPDA chairman Gen (red) Zulfiqar Ali Khan, PEPCO MD Munawar Baseer, LESCO CEO Zia-ul-Latif, Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) president Muzamil Sultan, Gujrat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) ex-president Mirza Imtiaz Ahmed and Anjuman-e-Tajiran Barket Market president Zubair Feroze. The session was co-hosted by Sikindar Hameed Lodhi and Intikhab Tariq.

Zulfiqar Ali Khan said that, in 1999, Pakistan had surplus electricity and was even considering exporting it to India, unlike the current situation when it was considering importing it from there. He said a ban was imposed in Nawaz Sharif tenure while politicians, like Abida Hussain and Mian Miraj, also faced actions against electricity theft. He said electricity theft was going on openly in many parts of the country.

Globally, Munawar Baseer said, electricity line loses was eight to 10 per cent while in Pakistan it was 25 per cent. It the loss was reduced to 10 per cent, Rs 100 billion could be save annually, he claimed, stressing on the need to make new laws as well as implement existing law in letter and spirit.

In Quetta line losses was 50 per cent while 60 per cent of tubewells in Baluchistan were operating on electricity theft, he said and added that good governance and administration was required to resolve power sector issues. He said government was cheating public by giving statement of purchasing cheap electricity from Iran while no work had been done on it.

Muzamil Sultan said different institutions were active to establish the business community as thieves. He said proposed electricity theft act had resemblances with OGRA laws. He said the government was wasting time in making new laws rather than initiating some work to overcome 12 hour-power outages.

Mirza Imtiaz Ahmed said the influential were involved in electricity theft and the courage to make decisions was required on the part of the government to end this but the government was lacking far behind it. When legislators become law violators, all rules and laws are rendered ineffective, he said.

The government had allocated Rs 175 billion for electricity sector in the budget 2012-13 but an amount of Rs 50 billion had already been spent in the first two months. By the end of this fiscal year, he said, the government would be compelled to spend over Rs 300 billion in this tune.

Zubair Feroze said the general consumers’ share in electricity theft was minimum while major share was contributed by industrial users. He said the government was collecting electricity bills from those users who were not involved in electricity theft. He said new proposed electricity theft law would also prove toothless as the government was not interested in arresting the influential.

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