Ministry probes purchase of circuit breakers from blacklisted companies

Ministry asks Discos to submit report, as engineers point out ‘wrongdoing’ in Gepco, Mepco

LAHORE: The Ministry of Energy has expressed deep concern over revelations that distribution companies (Discos) purchased 132kV circuit breakers worth millions of rupees from blacklisted firms through local suppliers. The Ministry has demanded an urgent report from all Discos following complaints filed by engineering associations from Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco) and Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco).

An unnamed official lamented, “I wonder how Discos, particularly Gepco and Mepco, could place orders with local firms known for sourcing circuit breakers and equipment from blacklisted entities.”

The official further disclosed that despite a recent ban imposed by the Asian Development Bank on an international company involved in such practices, Gepco and Mepco continued to issue purchase orders totaling nearly Rs1 billion to these firms.

In contrast, Faisalabad Electric Supply Company declined to procure from local manufacturers implicated in dealings with blacklisted firms, as per documents.

The Power Division has instructed all Disco CEOs to promptly submit detailed reports on these transactions. The Ministry’s letter, drafted by the section officer (Disco-II), cited specific corruption allegations related to recent tenders and purchases.

The engineering associations, in their complaint to the Ministry, accused Discos of unprecedented corruption and collusion with local suppliers who have undue influence in procurement processes. They highlighted discrepancies in pricing, noting that circuit breakers were being acquired at significantly inflated rates compared to available alternatives.

The associations urged for a thorough investigation, requesting the involvement of an impartial officer and an expert from the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA).

The Ministry, however, clarified that while it monitors such issues closely, operational independence of Discos is maintained, with the PPRA mandated to oversee procurement integrity in the public sector.

Notably, a letter from the Asian Development Bank’s Office of Anticorruption and Integrity underscored the severity of fraudulent practices, specifying a two-year debarment period for a foreign firm and its affiliates involved in submitting falsified compliance documents.

The senior ministry official emphasized that any intervention must align with PPRA guidelines to avoid legal challenges from affected companies, signaling ongoing vigilance by concerned ministry officers.

Monitoring Desk
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