Editorial : A long year - Monday, April 18, 2011

If you thought that a year was made up of 365 days, 52 weeks and 12 months you would be only partially right, because for electricity consumers in Pakistan a year now consists of 13 months – and an inflated bill for the power they consume to go with it. Time in Pakistan has an elastic quality about it anyway, and the ‘Pakistani minute’ is famed for its stretchability, but the power distribution companies (Discos) have raised the time-stretch bar to new heights. In order to hide the line losses of eight percent or more the Discos have been overbilling the consumer by between 40 and 50 billion rupees, equivalent to one month’s revenue every year. Nor is this a new phenomenon – it has been going on for between three and five years but the scam has been discovered by the National Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra). They found that the customers of Lahore Electricity Supply Company (Lesco) had been charging its end users an extra 35 days of consumption in order to cover up their inability to limit line losses.

It would appear that the actual line losses are 28 percent by Lesco, but in order to make it seem that they were reducing the losses they ‘adjusted’ consumers’ bills in such a way as to make it look like the losses were ‘only’ 20 percent – thus fooling the regulator Nepra. At least eight Discos are said to be involved and once again we are confronted with institutionalised corruption that has been sanctioned at the highest level within the Discos and seemingly only discovered by chance. They have now been warned not to tamper with the figures and that a thorough investigation is in process. It further appears that 15 percent the disappearing electricity is ‘lost’ with the connivance of the Discos themselves; and that there are 228 villages in Sindh that are getting a supply but have never paid a single rupee for it. Once again, it is the poor consumer who pays for the incompetence and greed of those further up the food chain. Only time will tell if time is to be returned to its normal shape and duration.

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=42317&Cat=8

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