ISLAMABAD: The federal government has stated that power outages in Sindh can be reduced if the province clears its outstanding bills that amount to Rs70 billion.
Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Monday informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water and Power that the federal government was willing to reduce load-shedding by half if the province paid the due amount. Payments in installments would also be acceptable, he said.
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The minister was responding to the complaints made by Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Nawab Muhammad Yousuf Talpur of the Pakistan Peoples Party that runs the government in Sindh.
They complained that power distribution companies in Sindh were not managed in a proper manner and they were resorting to prolonged load-shedding.
Shah pointed out that consumers of Sukkur Electric Power Company (Sepco) were facing up to 16 hours of load-shedding and criticised company officials for the outages.
Similarly, Talpur hit out at the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco), saying in addition to hours-long blackouts a large number of company employees had been fired without any reason.
Asif responded that the PPP was in power in Sindh and it should be held responsible for the performance of power companies. He offered to curtail the outstanding electricity bill of the provincial government if it agreed to pay even in installments.
“Things have been settled between Sindh and the centre several times but still the province is not paying the power bill,” he said. “Not only are we encountering this problem but the previous PPP government too faced the non-payment issue in Sindh.”
Citing the example of a police station that was allowed to consume electricity without a meter, the minister said the police station had given connection to around 150 houses around it.
Asif added non-payment of bills was a serious issue for the power sector and told the committee that the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) had outstanding electricity bills of Rs36 billion.
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Earlier, all the agreements between Sindh and the centre could not be implemented due to delay in payments.
Ministry of Water and Power Secretary Younus Dagha admitted that Wapda employees were involved in electricity theft but added the matter could not be resolved without the cooperation of provincial governments.
“The commissioners are board members of Hesco and Sepco and committees have been formed headed by these commissioners to control kundas (illegal power connections), theft and wrong billings, but the commissioners and DCs have not responded to anything,” he said.
Courtesy : Express Tribune