Billing system collapses: Audit shows corruption, inefficiency in Lesco -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Billing system collapses: Audit shows corruption, inefficiency in Lesco

Ahmad Fraz Khan

LAHORE: The billing system of the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) seems to have collapsed along with the electricity supply system under corruption and inefficiency, notes an internal audit report of the company.

The report carried out in one (Kasur) of seven circles operational under the company noted that there had been over billing and theft of Rs627 million in first six months of the current fiscal year.

“Excessive billing, aimed at showing reduced line losses, is being carried out for the last so many years,” says the report and adds: “Such billing (units) is subsequently withdrawn without revision in figure of line losses. The amount is not withdrawn through adjustment voucher, but is kept as “set aside” amount.”

The units excess billed and subsequently withdrawn when subtracted from the sales, result in 0.8 per cent increase in line losses for the first half of the current fiscal year. The estimated value of 424.37 million units excess billed in last two-and-a-half-years is approximately Rs3.5 billion, noted one of the directors of the Lesco board.

“The report has only pointed out what the hapless consumers have been suffering and claiming all along,” says Malik Sarfraz from Bhagbanpura. The Rs627 million billing represents one-seventh of the company. Add similar amounts for the rest of six circles, and the amount runs into billions of rupees. If 3.2 million consumers of the Lesco have to pay billions of rupees on the corruption head every month, the social anger is totally understandable and justified. It comes over and above killing rates of power, which are now increasing literally every month. The new minister needs to take note if he wants to make people feel any change, he demanded.

This is company’s own internal audit, not an allegation, says Afzal Sheikh of Shadman. It is now a proven fact, begging for action both the Lesco Board and its top management, if both of them are not part of the mafia. If the practice has been going on for “so many years” as noted by the report, what has the successive managements been doing? It only goes to show the official apathy towards consumers who suffer from both ends: high, and going higher by the day, tariff because of government policies and corruption in the field staff. The only way left for people is perhaps to refuse paying to force some ethics in the company staff, he insists.

“Where has been board of directors and what kind of corrective measures has it taken,” asks Mirza Nadeem from Johar Town. On top of them, where is the ministry? Where is Pepco? Where is National Electric Power Regulatory Authority? Do these reports reach them too or they go missing in the lower rung. If the media can obtain them, why cannot politicians, the regulator or power managers get them and act on them? This has been a puzzle that needs to be sorted out, he concluded.