Apart from being burdened by expensive electricity units, consumers also have to share the burden of free-of-cost electricity enjoyed by workers of power companies across the country. So is there any chance of abolishing this practice and giving deserving relief to the consumers who wonder why is the case so?
Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) Senior Officer Muhammad Iftikhar told 'The News' that Iesco provides free-of-cost units to staff members according to their grades. 'The staff of grade 5 to grade 7 was provided 300 electricity units free of cost. 'If an officer is in higher grade, he gets a maximum of 1100 units annually,' he revealed.
Millions of free units are granted to the workers and officials of the Water and Power Development Authority, distribution companies (Discos), and generation companies (Gencos) every year.
Reliable sources told 'The News' that there are over 30,000 staffers working in Iesco. All are enjoying free-of-cost units and burdening a common man in monthly bills, the sources said.
Some key post officers from Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) on condition of anonymity said that over 200,000 employees of the Wapda and other power distribution companies are getting around 300 to 1100 free electricity units annually according to their pay scales.
A Senate body on September 16, 2021, also demanded of the then government to stop providing free electricity to the workers of power companies across the country.
The Senate Standing Committee on Power, chaired by Senator Fida Mohammad last year was told by officials of the power division, '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 apprised the committee.'
Keeping in view the existing energy crisis and debt figures that are too large for Pakistan's economy to manage, is it feasible to let this lucrative practice continue for power generation companies. As Federal Minister for Energy, Khurram Dastagir Khan at a recent seminar also admitted the same scenario, so the question to ponder is whether the existing government has the determination to abolish this practice which is a long-time demand of the common man too.
'We are passing through the worst power crisis of its history, around 200,000 employees of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and other power distribution companies of the country are enjoying around 300 to 1100 free of cost electricity units, said a disgruntled Javed Ahmad, a salesman at Saddar, who hardly earns Rs25,000 a month and besides braving power outages has to face hefty electricity bills that are likely to further shoot up in upcoming months which was his main cause of worry.
Why are they sucking our blood, they take hefty salaries in homes so why are they getting free electricity. If the government wants to reduce its debt figures it will have to take tough decisions, said Mohammad Ahad, an economist teaching at a university in Islamabad.
Mohammad Rizwan, who draws a meagre salary of Rs20,000 per month while working in a private company said we are destroying departments with our own hands. 'The staffers of power companies are the ones who are enjoying free electricity and putting its burden on the general public. It's an open secret that staffers of the power distribution companies across the country are also involved in power theft and taking monthlies from factory owners and inflicting millions of rupees losses through illegal electricity connections to katchi abadis. This system should be streamlined and a check and balance should be put in place,' he added.