ISLAMABAD - Secretary for Water and Power Zafar Mahmood has confessed in Public Accounts Committee meeting on Thursday that Distribution Companies (DISCOs) were over-billing the consumers to overcome their losses.

The PAC meeting held under the chair Nadeem Afzal Gondal and discussed several issues involving power sector. Secretary Water and Power told the committee that 20 sub-divisional officers (SDOs) were suspended for over-billing in Lahore. PAC member Noor Alam had raised the issue that most areas of the country were without electricity for 20 hours daily whereas the bills were unchanged

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has also asked for enquiry over government’s provision of oil to various electricity generation units, and submitting a report in committee’s next meeting. Member PAC Noor Alam also recommended the abolition of the DISCOs system in favour of the WAPDA.

The meeting of PAC reviewed the audit reports of Ministry of Water And Power for the FY-2004-05, also ordered to present the details of NESPAK’s awarding of 32% above than legal payments to a certain contractor in 2007, within 10-day time.

PAC also wanted NESPAK to justify its reason for allowing its retired MD to keep an official car, in contravention to regulations; and submit its report regarding the issue within 20-day time, ordering that either the matter should be resolved prudently, or full payment of the car should be charged to the former MD.

It was also directed that the paras referring to issue of losses worth more than Rs. 8 million, as incurred by Ministry of Water and Power in its alternate energy endeavours, should be regularized by ministry of finance, or the payments due from relevant departments should be sought. 

On the occasion, the auditors informed that more than 6 million in advance were paid by WAPDA to three companies, sans any bank guarantee to ensure that these companies required services.

When questioned, secretary Zafar Mahmood informed the committee that Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) initiated the practice of issuing insurance guarantee instead of bank guarantee. Committee demanded an explanation from PEC on the issue.

Meanwhile taking strong notice of lack of any action against three officials held responsible by WAPDA, PAC also expressed chagrin over the absence of any FIA official, ordering an immediate enquiry by FIA and report to PAC in its next meeting. 

The committee also expressed its displeasure over absence of chief executive of TESCO (Tribal Electricity Supply Company) to answer various queries of the committee. The issue of occupation of WAPDA estate in Balochistan by Pakistan Air Force was also raised, and an immediate reconciliation of the issue was ordered by the committee.

The PAC also sought a report from Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) over the issue of manufacturing of transformers by private companies. Earlier some parliamentarians had also accused power utilities of indulging in wrongdoings in load management.