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Private sector’s power dues higher than govt

The performance of the power sector has deteriorated alarmingly during the last four years, as not only its distribution losses (power theft) have constantly increased but for the first time private sector outstanding were higher than government sector, according to official data.

Data from the performance reports of Pakistan Electric Supply Company for the years 2002-03, 2006-07 (after which PEPCO was separated from WAPDA) and 2011-12 revealed sustained deterioration in the power sector performance.

Sukkur Power Supply Company received 4,179.72 million kilowatt hours from the National Transmission and Distribution Company in 2011-12 but it could bill only 2,666.48 million kWh of units to the consumers, as its distribution losses were 36.2 percent.

Experts are unanimous that 90 percent of the distribution losses are because of power theft, while the recovery of billed amount is only 51 percent. Of 100 units of electricity that Sukkur Power Supply Company received in 2011-12, it issued bills for only 63.8 percent units because of distribution losses and of 63.8 billed units, it could recover bills for 32.58 units. This means that the actual loss to the distribution company was 68 percent, according to the data.

At the end of 2002-03, total outstanding of PEPCO was Rs58.184, of which the private sector dues stood at Rs24.67 billion and public sector owed Rs33.50.

Interestingly, Federally-administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in 2002-03 was the largest defaulter of PEPCO with the dues of Rs25.33 billion.

Total provincial government dues stood at Rs1.492 billion only and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (at that time NWFP) was the largest defaulter with payables of Rs1.34 billion, it said.

PEPCO had advance payment of Rs335 billion from the Punjab government. The line losses in 2002-03 were 16.5 percent.

In 2006-07, the last year when PEPCO was under WAPDA chairman, total outstanding of PEPCO were Rs145.9 billion, of which Rs73.79 billion were against government and Rs48.25 billion were against the private sector.

From the government side, the main defaulter again was FATA with an outstanding amount of Rs64.73 billion followed by KESC, which owed Rs23.77 billion. The four provincial governments’ outstanding dues were Rs3.64 billion, of which Sindh alone owed Rs3.22 billion. Punjab again had paid a surplus amount of Rs381 million to PEPCO. The distribution loses in 2006-07 stood at 14.9 percent, the data revealed.

Five years later after PEPCO was placed under the secretary ministry of water and power, the situation has changed alarmingly. Total outstanding of PEPCO increased to Rs385.56 billion with the government sector dues rise to Rs188.28 billion and the private sector dues ballooning to Rs197.33 billion.

The four provincial governments owed PEPCO Rs84.53 billion by the end of June. This is an alarming increase of over 2,800 percent in five years. Sindh again is the largest defaulter with an outstanding amount of Rs52.96 billion, of which Rs17.3 billion were added in 2011-12 alone, it revealed.

KESC emerged as another large defaulter with the dues of Rs54.67 billion, adding over Rs13 billion outstanding in 2011-12. The distribution loses in 2011-12 were 18.2 percent, which are 3.3 percent higher than 2006-07, it said.

Former WAPDA chairman Tariq Hameed attributed the deteriorating performance of the power sector to the absence of a permanent head of PEPCO ever since its inception and even now after its dissolution.

The secretary ministry of water and power remained the acting head of the power sector utility ever since it was separated from WAPDA, he said.

Earlier the power sector was operating under the command of WAPDA where the authority enjoys full autonomy, he said, adding that the WAPDA chairman has affixed tenure protected by constitution that makes him immune from political pressure.

The ideal solution would be to reunite power and water wings of WAPDA. However, if it is not possible, the power sector authority should be given the same autonomy as enjoyed by WAPDA.

He said he preferred to resign as WAPDA chairman when the decision was taken to bifurcate WAPDA.

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