Independent Committee Confirms Power Firms’ Overbilling, Shifts Blame to PDM Government and Regulatory Authority


An independent inquiry committee, formed to investigate allegations of illegal overbilling by power distribution companies (Discos) in Pakistan, has confirmed the accusations made by the power regulator. However, the committee absolved the Discos of deliberate and malicious intent, attributing the overcharging partly to decisions made by the previous coalition government led by the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) and the hasty actions of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).

Led by former federal secretary Irfan Ali, the committee comprised members with experience in the Power Division. Their 37-page report criticized Nepra for prematurely publicizing extreme allegations without thorough examination, while acknowledging the regulator’s intentions. The committee interviewed various stakeholders and technical experts to gather data.

The inquiry was initiated following public outcry over excessive electricity bills in July and August 2023, prompting protests. Nepra’s investigation revealed billing malpractices across all Discos, including K-Electric.

The committee agreed with Nepra’s assessment regarding the importance of transparent and timely meter reading, emphasizing the impact of inaccurate readings on consumers. It criticized the sudden increase in tariffs and billing, which burdened consumers and highlighted recurring issues in meter readings, often exacerbated by holidays and weather conditions.

While acknowledging financial gains by Discos, the committee attributed the discrepancies to inefficiencies rather than deliberate fraud. It pointed out staffing shortages and neglected infrastructure as contributing factors. Despite acknowledging electricity theft, the committee commended K-Electric for its transparency in meter readings.

Regarding detection bills and recoveries, the committee criticized Nepra’s generalizations, noting significant issues in specific Discos. It confirmed delayed meter replacements and highlighted the lack of mechanisms to protect consumers from overbilling due to delayed readings.

Mepco and Gujranwala-Disco were identified with high percentages of affected consumers. The committee called for performance evaluations of Disco boards and managements, emphasizing loss reduction and consumer satisfaction.

Overall, while confirming overbilling, the committee recommended addressing systemic inefficiencies and improving accountability within Discos to ensure fair billing practices and consumer protection.

Story by Khaleeq Kiani

Related posts