POWER — A CHALLENGE OF LIAQUAT JATOI
Streamlining of the utility companies including KESC is under way on war footing
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Sep 13 - 19, 2004
Liaquat Ali Khan Jatoi has recently taken over the charge of the Federal Minister for Water and Power after the installation of the new cabinet under the leadership of newly elected Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
Liaqat Jatoi was the Minister In charge of Production and Industries earlier and carries a vast experience of serving the people in different capacities including the Chief Minister of Sindh.
Despite his experiences and exposure, dealing with the Power sector which is a big challenge especially in the face of growing demand, increasing price and chronic problem of power shortage especially in Karachi where the consumption is more than anywhere else in the country.
Currently, the main problems confronted to these sectors are including high price of electricity, shortfall of power, menace of power theft at a massive scale and the transmission and the distribution network in Karachi.
Karachi has a shortfall of at least 1000mw of power, which is reflected in power supply interrupted by frequent load shedding, breakdowns and power fluctuations. A major chunk of the shortfall is bridge by WAPDA, which generally supplies up to 500 mw into the KESC system. Two small IPPs, Pakistan Steel and KANUPP meet the remaining gap.
In order to resolve the issue on permanent basis, the government at present is working on two options. One is to construct a direct link between HUBCO and KESC, which would ensure an additional supply of around 1200mw direct to Karachi consumers through KESC. This option should have been completed by now but unfortunately due to conventionally lethargic attitude of the bureaucratic system, the ECC and the Federal Cabinet and above all green signal to go ahead by the President of the country are delaying it for the last three years despite approval of the project. Once this link is establishes, the shortage of power will be addressed effectively. The industrial circles are of the view that since this vital link will hit the interests of some quarters they are creating hitches for this uncalled for delay in implementation of this vital link.
Yet another problem, which need immediate attention, is the exorbitant price of electricity. Although the power generation through thermal based system is a costly affair due to ever increasing oil prices, yet the main factor which pushes the electricity price high in Pakistan are the over taxation on power consumption which needs rationalization.
Liaqat Jatoi, realizing the situation has conceded that electricity price is on higher side due to government levies, which should be, rationalizes to help generating more economic activity in the country. One of the most irritating taxes on power consumption is the levy of Additional Surcharge on the power consumption. The consumers in addition to surcharge and other taxes pay this additional surcharge.
The Minister for Power, during his first visit to KESC Head Office after taking the charge of the Minister of Water and Power pledged to take up the matter and would do his utmost to cut down taxes on power consumption. Brig. Tariq Sadduzai Managing Director and other senior officials of the KESC were also present on the occasion.
When his attention was drawn towards the fact that additional surcharge on power consumption doubles the impact on the electricity charges, he agreed and vowed to look into the matter to bring down electricity prices at an affordable level.
It may be mentioned that besides the electricity charges, the consumers have to pay different taxes including fuel adjustment charges, surcharge, additional surcharge, electricity duty, income tax, meter rent etc.
Replying to a question that 70-80 percent of the power generation in KESC system has been switched over from oil fired to gas fired system, yet the differential of low priced indigenous natural gas has not yet passed on to the consumers, the minister said that he has just taken the charge yet he assured that benefits should be passed on to the consumers as the government was well aware of the difficulties of the genuine consumers.
He said that directives have been issued to pay all respect and bring change of help out culture in the KESC to give respect and honor to the honest consumers who are paying their bills accordingly.
He however sounded a note of warning to handle the power thieves with iron hand because they are in fact responsible for destroying the national organizations.
The KESC staff especially in the billing department and meter readers would be required to discharge their responsibility with honesty and dedication any lapse on their part for inflated billing or accumulated electricity for more than three months would not be tolerated. Those who found guilty of negligence would be immediately suspended, he warned in a firm tone.
He said that streamlining of the utility companies including KESC is under way on war footing, which includes rehabilitation of the transmission, distribution, and generation segments of the power sector. He said that the government has already granted an amount of Rs13 billion for restructuring on the KESC in all respects to facilitate the consumers.