ISLAMABAD-The Senate Standing Committee on Power was Thursday informed that the PTI government added Rs 45 billion per month to the circular debt during fiscal year 2019-20.

On 30th June, 2020, the circular debt had increased to Rs 2150 billion from Rs 1612 billion in 2018-19, official of the Power Division said while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Power here. The Committee was briefed regarding alleged removal of domestic meters of small farmers for running mono motors on single phase domestic connections by GEPCO. Points of public importance regarding exact figure of circular debt, transparency in PESCO recruitment process were considered as well. 

The committee, which met with Senator Fida Muhammad in chair, was further informed that in fiscal year 2018-19 the total circular debt was Rs 1612 billion which has reached Rs 2150 billion during the previous fiscal year. A total of 532 billion in 2019-20 (or an average Rs 44.33 billion) per month were added to the circular debt. It is worth mentioning here that the PML (N) government, in its last year of its tenure 2017-18, had added Rs25.583 billion per month the circular debt. During PTI first year in office (August 2018 to June 2019) around Rs430 billion were added to the circular debt at the average of Rs41 billion per month. In the second year of the incumbent government in office, total of Rs532 billion were added to the circular debt at the average of Rs44.33 billion per month. 

The committee was also informed that due to coronavirus and bad performance of the power distribution companies, the Discos have failed to collect Rs 240 billion electricity dues. The committee was informed by the CPPA officials that during the previous fiscal year wind power was generated at Rs 29 per unit while solar was generated at Rs 25 per unit. Senator Nauman Wazir said that the burden of the inefficiencies of the Discos should not be transferred to power consumers. Senator Siraj-ul-Haq said that first it needs to be determined whether Discos are services bodies or business institutions. He said from going through the available facts and figures it seems that Discos have failed. He said that by imposing taxes on the electricity the tariff has been increased for the farmers. The Prime Minister of Pakistan used to say that they will provide electricity to the farmers at Rs 5.35 per unit. 

Senator Nauman Wazir said that the cheapest electricity is being produced in KP while the lowest rates are being charged from the consumers of KE. Senator Siraj asked, “Why the power tariff is not uniform for all the power distribution companies?” An official of Power Division informed that the rate is uniform in the entire country but since KE had gone to the court therefore the rates of KE were lower than the rest of the country.    

Taking up point of public importance regarding transparency in the recruitment process of meter readers and linemen by PESCO; the Committee was informed that the testing agency had not provided a carbon copy of the answer sheet to candidates. During the current recruitment phase, companies were instructed to finalise the hiring by an independent testing agency after a competitive process as per PPRA Rules in consultation with Ministry of Energy (Power Division). The Committee formed an informal committee to review the matter in detail. 

While being briefed about the alleged removal of domestic meters of small farmers for running mono motors on single phase domestic meters for irrigation, the Committee was informed that certain consumers have got connections under domestic tariff for their Deras but they are running single phase mono motors and tube wells up to 4-8 KW for irrigation of their lands. The use of mono motor for agricultural purposes on domestic meters is a violation of tariff against which connection was applied and granted. As per SOPs, consumers have to apply for agricultural connections.  The Committee directed that this matter will be taken up in detail in the next meeting and that until then all connections must be restored. It was also stressed that Agricultural policy must be revised and made more farmer-friendly. CEO GEPCO was summoned in the next meeting.