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Not police but technology will deliver

The bleak energy situation in the country is cause of serious concern and anxiety for the intellectuals, think tanks and most importantly for the new government of Mian Nawaz Sharif. In order to maintain desired level of sustained growth to meet the needs of growing population, Pakistan must have resources not only to maintain the present level of Energy Supply from the available sources but It must also ensure 6-7% annual increase in Energy Supply.

Till now the country has been primarily relying on two major sources of energy – Natural Gas and Electricity. The demand for Natural Gas has been rapidly increasing for use as domestic fuel, power generation and industrial production. As a result the country has been facing shortage of about 2000 MMCF/ day of gas due to depleting gas resources and increasing public demand.

As regards electricity at about 23000 MW installed generation capacity and about 18600 MW available capacity it exceeds the peak demand of around 15600 MW. A capable and competent professional and corruption free management , can overcome the pitfalls and mitigate shortages of Power and Gas.

The government of Mian Nawaz Sharif seems to have very clear vision about short term, medium term and long term objectives and solutions. However, resolute commitment to take unprecedented tough decisions to tackle the monumental problems confronting the Energy Sector is the need of this hour. The government will be faced with lot of resistance from many quarters, the energy thieves, energy mafia and the illegitimate beneficiaries as the failure has been on the part of the entire system. The government will need to ensure respect for the common man, avoid nepotism, fight corruption and vested interests with iron hand. A very critical analysis and review of reasons for the energy crisis would prove as a big help in resolving the crisis.

No matter how many more generation facilities are installed, the critical point remains that any system would work,” as good as the people who run it”. The total management structure has been infested with an alarming level of corruption.

The government immediately needs a comprehensive surgical operation. At least the heads of all related departments, ministries and operating companies need to the replaced with qualified, competent, experienced persons and then given well defined targets for achievement. It can be said without any shadow of doubt that if the age limit condition remains, as shown in the media, for the selection of the heads of the corporations, you can forget about getting the type of managers who are needed to run these corporations profitably. In that case all noble plans of this government will be doomed. The government needs to, seriously, review this aspect while launching the program of recruitment of chief executives of corporations.

In order to manage and control the energy theft the government may think among realistic technological measures, to opt for many administrative measures. The utility bill defaulters are mostly government departments, federal as well as local. At the federal level the utility bills can be ducted from the budget allocation of the federal departments in advance every month.

The distribution of power and collection of revenue in the provinces can be made the responsibility of the provinces and the cost of power supplied could be deducted in advance from the funds allocated to the provinces under NFC award. The provinces, if desired so, can be given the control of distribution companies within the province. However this administrative solution may have many pit falls. The provincial governments may not have the necessary resources and capacity to effectively manage this new responsibility. The provinces may go into default in the recovery of utility bills. Eventually the federal government may end up making the short fall which could even be more than the present level.

No accurate estimates are available for colossal theft of power & gas. However, the most authentic information is the statement of the ministry of Water &Power before a committee of the parliament in early months of 2013. According to this statement the losses of power had reached to an alarming level of 45%.Hence no wonder that when generation is 15400MW the available power supply to consumers is only around 9000MW. Similarly a colossal amount of gas around 108,000 MMCF, is lost in the system due to theft, leakages and other reasons, resulting in huge loss to the nation.

So far the government seems to be contemplating only punitive measures through police to control theft and recovery of revenue. It will never work. The police monitoring cells might be able to harass some consumers and get media attention for excitement and an eye wash. In reality the corruption which presently is the domain of the line man and power & gas sector hierarchy only will further spread and multiply to the monitoring police and even lower judiciary. This administrative but punitive plan will usher in new era of corruption and nothing else. In a matter of few days the whole plan will become the decoration of the dust bin for all times to come.

How to deal with the high & mighty, who steal energy, Electricity & Gas to a great extent, is the prerogative of the government itself. Most of the energy thieves belong to the respectable industrial and commercial groups and some,” Honorable men” even sit in the parliament. It has been seen in the past that many governments have not been successful in anticorruption campaigns as soon it hits the Haves. No administrative plan will work. Only a proven and fool proof technological solution which eliminates human intervention in the energy supply networks is the answer.

The implementation of a number of Technological proven Energy Efficiency Programs aimed at controlling losses, theft and ensuring recovery of revenue with the use of pre paid Smart metering Network for the energy being consumed are the most effective productive and vital steps that need to be taken. Without the implementation of such Technological Energy Efficiency Programs even the increase in Power Generation & supply of additional gas will not solve the problems. The Power & Gas losses will only continue to multiply.

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