Senate Finance Committee Criticizes Surge in Utility Bills


Islamabad: Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance expressed strong criticism on Wednesday regarding what they described as a significant and burdensome increase in electricity and gas bills.

During the committee’s proceedings chaired by Senator Saleem Mandviwala, members voiced their concerns one after another, highlighting the unusual surge in bills despite the installation of solar panels. Senator Sadia Abbasi pointed out that consumers were receiving hefty electricity bills even after investing in solar panels, attributing the situation to the IMF program. Senator Kamil Agha cited an instance where a consumer received a gas bill of Rs63,000 for a four-Marla house.

In addition to discussing utility bills, the committee took up government bills titled “The Deposit Protection Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2024″ and “The Banking Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2024.” The Secretary of the Ministry of Law and Justice briefed the committee on these bills. After deliberation, the committee decided to defer these bills to the incoming Parliament, considering the impending establishment of a new parliamentary setup.

Furthermore, the committee received a preliminary forensic report regarding a financial fraud investigation. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) informed the committee that an investigation indicated the withdrawal of Rs410 million from an overseas Pakistani’s bank account at a multinational bank. It was revealed that private bank staff and accused individuals were involved in forging signatures. The FIA assured the committee of filing an FIR against the accused and conducting further investigations.

It was disclosed that three bank employees were implicated in the fraud, and the committee directed the FIA to thoroughly investigate the matter. The committee also heard from the victim, who reported harassment by both the police and bank management. The private bank management acknowledged the involvement of the bank manager in the questionable financial transactions.

The committee emphasized the need for thorough investigation and instructed the FIA to submit a detailed report at the next meeting. It was revealed that since 2017, money had been withdrawn from bank accounts through fake cheque books and signatures. The affected account holder reported harassment by both the police and bank management. The committee directed authorities to take action against the perpetrators and assured the victim of necessary support.

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