The government of Pakistan has decided to place the supervision of loss-making Distribution Companies (Discos) under the Pakistan Army to curb electricity theft and financial losses effectively, which is part of a broader strategy to combat power theft and enhance the recovery of electricity bills.
A serving brigadier, along with a team comprising officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB), will oversee the operations at the Performance Monitoring Units (PMUs) in all loss-making Discos.
The monitoring team will identify corruption within the Discos and those involved in electricity theft. These officials will be able to act directly against individuals perpetrating these activities. The plan, awaiting approval from higher authorities, is set to be initiated at the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) as a pilot project.
Data from the financial year 2020-21 reveals varying levels of electricity bill recovery across different Discos, with companies like HESCO, SPECO, QESCO, and TESCO showing considerably low recovery percentages. These inefficiencies have resulted in significant losses to the national exchequer.
The caretaker energy minister announced a crackdown on electricity thieves, highlighting the massive annual losses from electricity theft and unpaid bills, amounting to Rs589 billion. The total loss in Discos with relatively better recovery in cities like Lahore, Faisalabad, and Islamabad was estimated at Rs100 billion. In contrast, Discos in regions like Peshawar, Hyderabad, and Quetta experienced losses as high as 60%.
The decision to place Discos under the supervision of a serving brigadier and staff from FIA and IB aims to bring about necessary improvements in these loss-making companies. This strategy is expected to yield better results in managing electricity theft and enhancing bill recovery.