ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s Standing Committee on Power has expressed serious annoyance over heavy billing fraud in the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO).
The Senate committee met on Friday under the chair of Senator Fida Muhammad. The committee took up matters related to heavy billing fraud in IESCO, while issues pertaining to demand and supply situation, feeder-wise line losses and theft in Tribal Electric Supply Company (TESCO) and Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO) were also discussed in detail.
Sharing the details of IESCO billing fraud, IESCO chief Shahid Iqbal informed the meeting that the company’s staff, in connivance with some people, had collected bills from the consumers in a fraudulent manner.
He said the matter was disclosed on 27th June 2019 when a consumer made a telephone call for verification of his bill worth Rs1.53 million, which was deposited in the Bank of Punjab’s Blue Area Branch.
He said a concerned official was sent to verify the matter and initially it was verified that the amount was deposited and the record was available in the office of the customer service officer (CSO). However, the CSO advised the concerned officer to get written verification from the said bank.
“The bank declared the record as fake, arguing that this was not the record of the bank. The IESCO staff used to collect electricity bills from the consumers only to put fake stamps on them,” Shahid Iqbal added.
He said that approximately Rs43 million worth of fraud was done on 27th June alone.
The IESCO chief further informed that an internal committee was formed to probe the matter of billing fraud and it was unearthed that this fraud was being done from last three years and IESCO staff, including CSO Muhammad Naeem, Commercial Assistant Khalid, Accounts Assistant Muhammad Rafique, peon Waqas Javed and a private person Gul Khitab were found involved in the crime.
“Following the findings of the internal committee, 12 employees of IESCO were suspended while two were terminated from service. The matter was then referred to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and an FIR was registered against the culprits. Around Rs95.41 million have been recovered out of the total Rs293 million,” he maintained.
On finding the IESCO chief’s response on heavy billing fraud, the committee chairman expressed severe annoyance and asked, “Why didn’t the concerned officers paid any attention to this matter when the fraud was prevalent for the last three years?”
He advised the Power Division officials to devise a strategy against the menace of corruption and ensure strict punishment to the responsible.
Also present on the occasion, the Power division secretary informed the meeting that he has advised to conduct an audit of the special funds of all distribution companies.
Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak on the occasion advised the power ministry officials to check the record of PESCO, FESCO and other DISCOs and asked for strict action against the private audit firm which conducted audit of the accounts of IESCO.
He said the Auditor General’s office should brief the committee during next meeting and advised the power ministry to digitise the entire system.
The Senate body sought a report regarding the funds issued to all DISCO during the last ten years.