The Power Division has expressed willingness to do away with the role of collection of taxes and surcharges on electricity except General Sales Tax (GST) to avert criticism of consumers due to heavy bills.
This intention was conveyed by the Minister for Power, Khurram Dastgir Khan at a meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee on Power during discussion on a calling attention notice of Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, MNA, regarding collection of TV fee on electricity bills of mosques across the country.
The mover further argued that since mosques do not have any earning except collection from those who come to pray, mosques be exempted from all taxes and surcharges. He said, mosques and religious worship places of minorities be exempted from all taxes and surcharges.
The committee agreed to the proposal and decided to send recommendations to Standing Committee on Finance which is competent to take any decision on this issue. Currently, the number of mosques is 254,000 across the country sans KE’s territorial jurisdiction.
Responding to the arguments of Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, Minister for Power said that taxes are not imposed by the Power Division, and sought guidance from the Standing Committee for a viable solution to this issue. He also sought help from the Standing Committee on collection of taxes and surcharges on electricity bills. He further contended that Power Division wants to do away with the role of tax collection agency through electricity bills except GST.
Responding to a question, Additional Secretary Incharge, Power Division Rashid Mahmood Langrial informed the Standing Committee that circular debt stock has reached Rs 2.4 trillion which includes receivables of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and gas companies.
He said government pays capacity amounts to the IPPs as per agreements – in summer and winter adding that the impact of the 8000 MW used by the rich to cool down their homes is also felt by the poor consumers.
He, however, revealed that Power Division has drafted a policy for approval of the government, according to which, NOC will not be issued to non-energy efficient houses of one Kanal and above and apartments.
“NOC of electricity connections will not be issued to those houses and apartments not designed and constructed as per approved specifications,” Langrial added.
Responding to a question about shortage of manpower in Discos, which is affecting their performance, Minister for Power informed that new recruitment policy of Discos has been submitted to the Prime Minister for his consent and as it is approved, it will be unveiled. He, however, assured the Committee that the recruitment will be district-wise.
The Standing Committee also recommended that the formation of Board of Directors (BoD) of Discos be reviewed after Ghous Bux Khan Mehar, MNA raised objections on the members of SEPCO Board. He alleged that Members of SEPCO Board have connections to one political party and do not have any experience of power sector.
The meeting was attended by Members of Committee, officials of Power Division and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Discos.