Senate panel wants end to free power for electricity firms' workers.


Byline: Khaleeq Kiani

ISLAMABAD -- A Senate panel on Tuesday asked the government to come up with some alternative options such as monetisation to replace the existing practice of free electricity facility for the 198,000 employees of the power companies to avoid financial bleeding.

The Senate Standing Committee on Power, headed by Senator Fida Mohammad, was informed that about 391 million electricity units were provided free of cost to the 198,222 employees of the Water and Power Development Authority, distribution companies (Discos) and generation companies (Gencos) during fiscal 2018-19. The total cost of these free units was estimated at Rs5.26 billion, officials of the power division reported.

The committee was told that free units were being provided to the employees as part of their service benefits. It was explained that the facility could not be withdrawn altogether since it was part of the employees' contract, but ways and means could be considered to avoid misuse.

Some senators suggested monetisation of the facility by offering alternative allowances in salary equivalent to the employees' ceilings of free electricity units so that they could start thinking about energy saving and conservation. It was also observed that electricity being supplied to the staff to a large extent was not properly metered or billed and hence misused in the neighbourhoods.

The meeting was told that out of total 198,221 total staff, 16,591 were officers while the remaining 181,631 were in non-officer grades. The officers together consumed 80m units worth Rs1.382bn during the fiscal 2018-19. The lower grade officials consumed 311m units worth Rs3.88bn.

The meeting was told that the total number of 198,222 included about 150,000 existing employees and 48,000 retired employees, their families or widows. It was informed that Discos' employees in grade 1 to 4 were entitled to 100 free units per month, which increased to 150 units for grade 5 to 10 and reached 200 units for those in grade 11...

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