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Govt to recover Rs300b from electricity defaulters: Omar Ayub

Govt to recover Rs300b from electricity defaulters: Omar Ayub

ISLAMABAD: The present government is planning to recover Rs300 billion from electricity “defaulters and thieves”, besides providing Rs50bn additional subsidy to exempt consumers using up to 300 units from tariff increase required under the International Monetary Fund programme.

Addressing a press conference, he said that the government was also working to divide four of the larger power distribution companies into eight to improve their functioning and efficiency. Each of the Peshawar, Quetta, Multan and Lahore distribution companies would be divided into two so as to make them efficient and improve their service, he added.

Going forward, he claimed that the government aimed to bring the circular debt down from Rs450bn at present to zero by December 2020, adding that power companies had been able to recover Rs81bn from private defaulters over the past eight months of the current fiscal year and registered 30,000 FIRs for power theft with 4,000 arrests already made. Besides, he said, “stern departmental action” was being taken against officials of power companies for colluding on power losses. Omar Ayub says crackdown on power theft launched, asks consumers to help identify thieves

The minister said these efforts were required to ensure that electricity tariff was not increased for consumers using 300 units per month. “We will set aside Rs230bn subsidy in upcoming budget to sec­ure these consumers having 300 units or less per month consumption.”

He said the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) had recommended an increase of Rs3.84 per unit in tariff, but the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government passed on only Rs1.27 per unit to consumers and even then protected the domestic consumers using up to 300 units per month. This segment accounted for 75 per cent of total consumers, he said, adding that 95pc small commercial consumers were also exempted from tariff increase.

“The same policy will continue even under the IMF bailout package,” he said, adding that tariff increase for other consumer categories would be determined by Nepra. He claimed that there was zero loadshedding on 80pc feeders in the country.

The minister said the PML-N government started giving electricity to loss-making feeders to win elections that resulted in Rs450bn addition to the circular debt. He said the fresh accumulation of circular debt at present was Rs38bn per month that would be reduced to Rs26bn by June and Rs8bn by June 2020 to completely wipe out the problem.

“We have set the target to collect Rs100bn from defaulters and Rs200bn from those involved in power theft by June next year,” he said, adding that the power system losses had also been curtailed by 1.8pc since September last year.

The minister appealed to the masses to join hands in what he called a “Jihad against power theft” on the remaining 1,500 feeders that accounted for 20pc of the total feeders by identifying thieves.