Experts denounce political hirings

LAHORE: Industry experts have stated that a reason behind the hike in energy cost and the surge in cost of doing business is the appointment of officials on vested interests in the power sector in complete disregard of the fit and proper criteria.

They were of the view that the concept of boards, which was introduced to improve efficiency in the power sector, was marred with the appointment of non-practitioners on political grounds. This increased the cost of distribution companies (DISCOs), rather than reducing the energy cost for consumers, they maintained.

At an event titled “Energy Sector Reforms – Increase in Cost of Doing Business” on Thursday, former Power Division secretary Irfan Ali stressed that during the past three years, the appointees in these boards, in the name of reforms, just increased expenses of the distribution companies.

“The nation has not yet seen a single reform,” he remarked.

He was of the view that the privatization of power sector was impossible because of the uniform tariff. The government notified a uniform power tariff for all DISCOs, irrespective of their efficiencies, he said.

Referring to the past, Ali recalled that a massive campaign against power theft was launched by the government, which resulted in an additional revenue collection of Rs260 billion.

“This was made possible with political support,” he said and emphasised that power theft could be minimised with government support.

He pointed out that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressurised the country to end the subsidy for power consumers, which was averted during his tenure. “Monthly circular debt has been brought down to Rs12 billion from Rs35 billion,” he added.

Regarding the energy mix, he pointed out that a demand-driven estimate was made during his tenure by the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) till 2040.

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