Islamabad, September 7, 2023 – Pakistan has announced a sweeping crackdown against electricity theft, aimed at improving revenue recovery and providing relief to the general public.
Minister for Power and Energy, Muhammad Ali, outlined the government’s multifaceted strategy during a news conference, joined by Caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Murtaza Solangi.
Muhammad Ali disclosed that Pakistan’s ten distribution companies collectively face a staggering loss of 589 billion rupees, primarily due to power theft and nonpayment of electricity bills.
To address this pressing issue, the government has devised a comprehensive three-pronged strategy:
Technological Interventions: In areas where electricity theft ranges from 15 to 30 percent, technology-based interventions will be implemented to curb illicit power consumption.
Private Sector Engagement: In regions where electricity theft reaches 30 to 60 percent, the private sector will be enlisted to manage power distribution, aiming to bring greater efficiency and accountability.
Enforcement Measures: In areas where power theft exceeds 60 percent, stringent enforcement measures will be put in place to combat the rampant theft and encourage bill payments.
Muhammad Ali emphasized the necessity of reforming the energy sector, including a review of the performance of the Board of Directors of power distribution companies. Changes in management are also on the horizon, as officials implicated in electricity theft will be reshuffled, with finalized lists already dispatched to the Election Commission of Pakistan for implementation.
To oversee and monitor the performance of distribution companies, the government is establishing provincial-level Task Forces in collaboration with the provinces. Furthermore, a draft law known as the Electricity Theft Control Act is in the works to provide a legal framework for addressing electricity theft.
Responding to questions, Minister Ali stated that the government is considering various measures, including privatization and devolving power sector responsibilities to the provinces, to enhance performance. Additionally, the issue of providing free units of electricity to WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority) officials is under review, with directives from the Prime Minister.
Highlighting the seriousness of the crackdown, Ali mentioned that lists of distribution companies involved in power theft have been compiled with input from the respective Chief Executives.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi affirmed that none of the interim setup ministers are receiving free electricity, dispelling notions of preferential treatment. He assured the public that the interim government is committed to adhering to constitutional norms and will not take any extra-constitutional actions.
This ambitious crackdown on electricity theft signifies the government’s determination to address the root causes of financial losses in the power sector and ensure a fair and equitable distribution of electricity across Pakistan.