Cabinet members split over free electricity supply.

ISLAMABAD -- Though members of the cabinet have voiced concerns over supply of free electricity to the employees of Wapda and DISCOs, the ministries are divided over the proposal of discontinuing such services, which are blamed for the runaway circular debt.

In a recent meeting of the cabinet, it was revealed that 189,000 employees of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and power distribution companies (DISCOs) were consuming free electricity. Of these, 14,000 are of officers' grade and they will also be impacted in the first phase of proposed monetisation. In the huddle, the Power Division shared comments of the Cabinet Division, Finance Division, Ministry of Water Resources, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and Wapda.

Nepra suggested that a utility allowance should be given to Wapda and DISCOs' officials instead of free electricity and monetisation.

The Ministry of Water Resources stated that the proposed arrangement would result in no savings while the Finance Division recommended the discontinuation of free electricity. It was pointed out that monetisation would not include 18% sales tax and other taxes.

Read Loss-making DISCOs struggle to avoid privatisation

Members of the cabinet inquired whether or not any similar perquisites were being given to other departments as well. The power secretary replied that except for power-sector employees who were not billed due to the facility, all other government employees and officers were billed for electricity consumption. Cabinet members suggested that the facility should be withdrawn from non-officer cadres.

The Power Division sought approval for the proposal of halting free electricity and giving a monetisation allowance to power-sector employees.

The cabinet noted that since Pakistan was under an IMF programme that did not support any subsidies, prior consultation with the Finance Division was necessary before considering any compensation package or relief.

The prime minister emphasised the need for providing relief to the common man while considering factors like power theft and capacity payments to independent power producers (IPPs).

It was noted that the facility of free electricity was introduced in 1974 as part of service benefits for the employees. It has remained in place for the employees of corporatised companies, ie, DISCOs, generation companies (Gencos), National...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT