The government has decided to reactivate the Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO). With the reactivation of the PEPCO, which was dissolved in 2010, the government aims to centralise the control and monitoring of the distribution companies (Discos). In principle, PEPCO was always a sound idea. In a country like Pakistan, the government needs a body to reign in unbridled discos and implement prompt decisions when needed.

However, in reality, the body proved a complete failure as the distribution companies were to move towards privatisation while PEPCO, as a regulatory body, was looking at their system. Sadly, PEPCO was marred by uncertainty, inefficiency and losses. Nonetheless, the performance of companies like Karachi Electric (KE) and other Discos demands a monitoring unit that can keep a check on their performance and service delivery. Today, a near decade after abandoning the idea, in most of the cases, the reforms that the government wanted to bring in the energy sector are nowhere in sight. The situation instead of improving has worsened ever since the dissolution of PEPCO.

Under the new plan, the body will act as a “Management Agent” for all the Discos. The energy situation in the country demands an accumulator organisation. The government should give control of the Discos and generation companies (Gencos) to the revived PEPCO under the new scheme. In many countries, there are integrating bodies that act as accumulator bodies. This way, the government will achieve the goals of controlling the power distribution companies and enact quick decision-making.

That said, the government must not repeat the mistakes of the previous regimes. The revived PEPCO must strictly act as a management agent. True, the decision to reactivate the institution sounds like the reversal of the reforms cycle. However, the government can avoid the pitfalls if it ensures that PEPCO sticks to its task of overseeing and managing the public distribution and generation companies.