Government Acknowledges Systemic Overbilling by Power Distribution Companies


In a significant admission, the government has acknowledged the recurring issue of overbilling by power distribution companies (Discos), highlighting a lack of awareness about the extent of faulty meters within the system. Power Minister Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, in a recent news conference, pledged decisive action against complicit staff and officers while hinting at potential rate reviews for various consumer segments to stimulate demand and address rising capacity payments.

Minister Leghari revealed that Discos were facing losses of around Rs. 560 billion annually, attributing a substantial portion of this loss to overbilling and theft facilitated by both electricity thieves and officials within the ministry and its subsidiaries. He emphasized the need to end this damaging trend, emphasizing that approximately 20% of staff and officers were involved in facilitating such losses at the expense of ordinary consumers.

The government plans to take stringent measures against those responsible for these losses, disregarding any resistance or protests. Minister Leghari stressed that this was essential to protect an essential service and restore financial sustainability to the energy sector.

Highlighting the lack of knowledge regarding faulty meters, the minister expressed concern over the power division’s limited awareness of the extent of defective meters. He noted that while the power regulator Nepra had previously flagged massive overbilling, the power division had not made the findings public until now.

Addressing declining electricity demand, particularly due to the increasing adoption of solar power, the government is considering rate reductions for industrial consumers and other incentives to promote higher power usage. This strategic approach aims to control power pilferage, curb overbilling, and tackle the circular debt, which currently stands at about Rs. 2.5 trillion.

Minister Leghari also indicated a shift in focus towards addressing the issue of consumers transitioning off-grid through solar installations, with only a fraction of imported solar panels being utilized for net-metering purposes. The government is actively evaluating measures to incentivize grid-connected usage and manage the evolving energy landscape effectively.

Story by Khaleeq Kiani

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