Over Rs538bn added to circular debt in FY20, Senate body told

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s Standing Committee on Power was informed on Thursday that with an addition of over Rs538 billion during the last fiscal year (FY20), Pakistan’s total circular debt now stands at Rs2,150 billion.

The committee meeting, which was held with Fida Muhammad in the chair, discussed the exact figures of circular debt, transparency in the recruitment process of meter readers and linemen in PESCO, and alleged removal of domestic meters of small farmers by GEPCO and others.

It was disclosed in the meeting that less recovery was made in FY20 due to a change in consumer mix, instalment facility to domestic consumers, and Covid-19 outbreak.

The impact of Covid-19 on circular debt was recorded at Rs104 billion.

The Power Division additional secretary informed there was a uniform national tariff policy being applied across the country, except K-Electric, adding that some 121 billion units were generated during the last fiscal year.

The Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) chief on the occasion told the meeting that there was an acute shortage of staff in the company ant that 14,000 employees were currently working against the sanctioned strength of 27,000.

“The government had granted permission to recruit 3,000 employees in November 2018, but the process of recruitment could not be completed so far,” he stated. “Efforts are being made to complete the recruitment process for assistant linemen and others at the earliest.”

Explaining reasons for the delay, he informed that many candidates, out of around 280,000 total candidates, had filled wrong roll numbers that were not machine-readable and caused manual checking and sorting of the papers.

“All results have now been uploaded on the testing agency’s website and subsequently on PESCO’s website,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Ginjanwala Electric Supply Company (GEPCO) told the Senate panel that certain consumers had received electricity connections under domestic tariff for their “deras”, but they were running single-phase tube wells up to 7KW for irrigation of their agricultural land. “The single-phase motors having load from 4-7KW caused overloading and unbalancing of general duty transformers, ultimately damaging the transformers.”

The meeting was attended by Senators Nauman Wazir Khattak, Ahmed Khan, Mushahidullah Khan, Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Muhammad Akram, Molvi Faiz Muhammad, Siraj ul Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed.

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