Contrary to the claims that the banking sector was
facilitating the citizens at a massive scale for the payment of utility
bills, the utility consumers have to go through painful exercise for
paying utility bills every month.
The consumers may have to face even worse situation
in the days to come as about two to three branches of banks are closing
the counters for collection of utility bills in violation of the
instructions by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
According to official figures, in Karachi there are
4.2 million subscribers of PTCL, electricity and gas who have to go
through an indecent way for paying their utility bills every month. This
is an additional punishment to the citizens besides bearing the agony of
poor quality services provided by the telephone, power and gas companies
to the consumers. This is because of the poor quality services of the
electric and landline telephones that a large majority of bulk power
consumers have set up their own captive power plants. According to an
assessment, in Karachi industrial estates over 500 megawatt of power at
their own. It is because of the poor services of the telephone
departments that a phenomenal growth in cellular phone subscribers is
being noticed all over the country.
I have been given a challenging job for improvement
of banking services to the clients, on top of that one task is to remove
the "utility bill collection counter as it is a nuisance," a
senior manger of a private bank branch in Sidco Center situated near PIA
reservation office told the PAGE with the request of unanimity.
And only within one month's efforts, the very competent officer removed
the counter. This cold and indifferent attitude towards collection of
the utility bills might be one of the reasons of huge stuck up amount of
the KESC on account of defaulters.
The State Bank orders bounds all the banks operating
in the country that each and every branch will collect the utility bills
and refusal would lead to cancellation of banking license.
The warning issued by the State Bank of Pakistan on
September 4, 2000, to all the Chief Executives of NBP, HBL, UBL, ABL,
MCB, First Women Bank Ltd., Bank of Punjab, Bank of Khyber under the
title of "STREAMLINING THE PROCEDURE FOR COLLECTION OF UTILITY
BILLS" says: "As you are aware, a Committee was constituted
under the chairmanship of Mr. Javed Ahmad Noel, Honorary Adviser,
Ministry of Finance to look into the issue of streamlining and
simplifying the procedure for collection of utility bills. The Committee
after extensive and prolonged deliberations on various issues involved
has since submitted its report to the State Bank of Pakistan. The
following recommendations requiring actions by the banks collecting
utility bills have been made in the said report:
branches should accept payment of bills of Rs.1000/- and above through
cheques from their account holders. These cheques should be accepted at
normal banking counters instead of windows designated for cash bill
collection timings i.e. 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. should be prominently
displayed at all the bank branches. Particulars of the nearest branch
accepting bills up to 8:00 p.m. should also be displayed at every
should publicize the fact that a bill can be paid at any branch of any
bank collecting utility bills or the post office within a city/town. It
does not have necessarily to be paid in a branch located closer to the
billed premises. Moreover, public be advised to tender exact cash at the
time of payment of bills to save their own and others' time.
iv) Banks and
the post office department should work with large companies,
corporations and government departments to evolve a system whereby the
corporation/department can make arrangement for collection of bills
through their own staff assisted by bank staff, prepare scrolls and
deposit the same in lump sum with the bank branch or the post office.
v) The banks
having ATM facility are allowed to enter into agreements with the
utility companies for collection through ATM.
should streamline arrangements with the utility companies for payment of
bills through Internet. Particulars of bank branches having Internet
connections should be advertised in the media and on the websites of
banks and the utility companies. Moreover, the collection of bills
through Internet should be publicized and the public should be educated
about the option of paying bills through Internet.
vii) The banks
should adopt a system of internal monitoring on the following lines:
branch/unit collecting utility bills should send a monthly report by
10th of every month to the Zonal/Regional Office for onward submission
to a focal point at Head Office of the bank giving details of number of
bills collected during the month and the progress made towards time
saving, queue reduction etc.
b) As part of
the monthly feed back process, a committee will be formed in each
branch/unit which will be made directly responsible for ensuring
compliance to the laid down instructions, submission of the monthly
reports and incorporating customer feed back therein.
c) A Comment
Card in every branch/unit will be introduced whereby suggestions will be
solicited from customers for further improving the service. The card
will have a pre-paid stamp and will be addressed directly to the
concerned senior executive/focal point responsible in Head Office.
checks by senior staff monitoring the work of utility bills collection
shall be conducted.
In exercise of the powers vested in the State Bank of
Pakistan under the Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962, you are hereby
directed to implement the above recommendations in letter and spirit.
Moreover, the compliance of instructions earlier issued on the subject
from time to time should also be ensured. It may kindly be clearly noted
that the State Bank will intensify surprise checks by its inspection
teams to ensure meticulous compliance of this directive. Banks found
violating the laid down instructions would be subjected to levy of
penalty under the relevant provisions of BCO, 1962.
The State Bank of Pakistan, however, does not bother
to monitor the quality of the services offered by the bank branches. The
most glaring example of the lethargic attitude of the banks is indicated
in dealing with the recently launched PPL shares subscription through
the banks. The subscribers were dealt the cold attitude and after
submitting the applications applicants are now being asked to find out
the allotted number of their applications lying in the junk of the