The government has decided to hand over the management of loss-making power distribution companies (Discos) to the army and other law enforcement agencies to crack down on electricity theft and improve bill recovery.
The News reported, quoting sources, that the Power Division has prepared a plan to establish Performance Monitoring Units (PMUs) in every Disco that is facing high losses and low recovery. The PMUs will be headed by a serving brigadier and will have officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) as part of their staff.
The PMUs will have the mandate to identify and take action against the corrupt elements within the Discos and the consumers who are involved in stealing electricity or not paying their bills.
However, the plan is yet to be approved by the higher authorities, but the Power Division is keen to implement it as a pilot project in the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO), which has one of the worst performance records among the Discos.
It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan’s power sector is facing a huge financial crisis due to the high losses and low recovery of the Discos.
According to the data for the fiscal year 2020-21, the recovery of electricity bills in HESCO was at 73.7 percent, in Sukkur Electric Power Company (SEPCO) at 64.6 percent, in Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO) at 34.66 percent and in Tribal Electric Supply Company (TESCO) at 25.29 percent.
The Power Division secretary confirmed that the plan was under consideration and said it would help reduce the losses and increase the revenues of the power sector.
He said the plan was inspired by the successful operation of the army-led Task Force on Power in Karachi, which has brought down the losses of the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) from 40 percent to 18 percent in the last two years.
The caretaker energy minister had announced a crackdown on electricity thieves on September 6, 2023, saying that the system was losing Rs589 billion annually due to theft and non-payment of bills.
He had said that the Discos in Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan and Islamabad had losses of 3 percent, while the Discos in Peshawar, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta and Azad Jammu and Kashmir had losses as high as 60 percent.