LAHORE (NNI) - The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Saturday urged the government to control line losses, electricity theft, inefficiency in recovery of dues and help stop political interference in energy sector that has reduced the country’s economic growth by 3-4 per cent in the last two years.

In a statement issued here, LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh said that the US report about the political interference in the energy sector is an eye-opener for all as it is not only the economy that has been facing a meltdown-like situation but the entire country is in grip of multiple challenges due to an acute energy shortage.

The LCCI President said that there is no second opinion about it that effective governance is critical to economic reforms but if the political interference continues to undermine the decision-making then how one can expect an economic turnaround in coming years. Irfan Qaiser Sheikh said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been calling on the government since long for now for the introduction of much needed reforms in the energy sector but unfortunately all its appeals had fell on deaf ears with the result of huge cut in country’s economic growth.

He said that 3-4 per cent cut in economic growth means fewer job opportunities and little local, foreign Investment. The foreign investors generally take cue from local investors. If local businessmen are putting their stake in new ventures, the foreigners will also follow the suite but unfortunately in Pakistan both local and foreign investments have registered drastic decline.

The LCCI President said that if the government does not implement fundamental reforms in near future, the energy situation could aggravate further creating more serious challenges for the government. The LCCI President also invited the attention of the government towards Rs 160 billion line losses and electricity theft, Rs120 billion on account of inefficiency in recovery of bills in the last financial year.

“The system suffered a huge loss of Rs160 billion in the last financial year just on account of electricity pilferage and transmission and distribution losses. “Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) braved an over Rs50 billion hit, which is one-third of total losses.  These figures have been worked out as per the claims of the government, which is facing an average of 19.5 percent line losses.”

Further, in the jurisdiction of PESCO, the electricity theft ratio stands at 30 percent, Hyderabad Electric Supply Company at 19 percent, Sukkur Electric Power Company at 25 percent, Quetta Electric Power Company at 22 percent, whereas in the whole of Punjab electricity theft stood at two to three percent only but the province is facing maximum power cuts. It is unprecedented that over 14 hours load-shedding is being done in the urban areas of the province while about 18 hours power cuts in the rural areas that are unjustified and bound to destroy the provincial economy, the LCCI President said.