ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to accelerate efforts to approve an amendment to the Pakistani Penal Code to make electricity theft a more identifiable criminal offense.
The actual losses of the distribution companies (discos) amounted to 17.82 percent in the period 2019-20 compared to Nepra’s permissible losses of 15.53 percent. However, Nepra has set future discos losses at 13.46 percent, of which the target is set for Iesco at 8.60 percent, Lesco at 10.88 percent, Gepco at 9.51 percent, Fesco at 10.10 percent, Mepco to 14.90 percent, Pesco 21.33 percent, Hesco 19.47 percent, Qesco 17.15 percent, Sepco 18.11 percent and Tesco 11.96 percent.
According to Secretary Power, in order to reduce losses by 2 percent over the next two years, the government has aimed to improve the recovery by 5.6 percent to 96 percent. The energy sector’s circular debt has already topped 2.3 trillion rupees, 25 percent of which can be attributed to inefficiencies in discos, including theft.
Power Division, recently recomposed Board of Six Discos, while new Boards of Four Discos are expected to be approved by the Cabinet once a summary has been submitted to the Cabinet Department.
Official sources indicated that the energy sector was faced with the situation that the recoveries from the consumers affected by the discos are insufficient and insufficient to cover the costs of electricity generated. As a result, the GoP has to provide subsidies, especially for discos where leakage, theft and theft are widespread.
This phenomenon is primarily due to a fragile legal and enforcement structure. As a result, the conviction rate of such crimes is low.
According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, criminal offenses can be identified either by the police (arrests can be made by the police without an arrest warrant) or by the court (a complaint must be submitted to the court, which then decides whether the police may conduct investigations and arrests or not).
This change was made by the Criminal Law Ordinance (Amendment) of 2013 and promulgated in 2014. There was an anomaly in applicable law while amending the list of the Code of Criminal Procedure made the crimes related to electricity detectable by the police, but section 462-0 made them detectable by the Court only.
Since the main law takes precedence over the schedules, the courts had ruled that direct FIRs through the discos to the police (i.e. without prior appeal to the court, in this case the court of appeal) were null and void and were arrested by the police.
The Power Division argues that if the police were given full powers of information, it would be just another excuse for the police to harass consumers. There is therefore an urgent need to correct the current situation in which the Energy Division finds itself.
Therefore, the proposed amendment makes the crime visible to the police, but only if the “information” is provided to the police in writing by a 17th grade officer of the government or the disco.
The government has also proposed to replace Section 462-0 of Act XLV of 1860 with the following: “The offenses punishable under Chapter 662-0 are discernible, but the police do not take notice of an offense under this Chapter that it is.” because there is information about it. ” An offense is reported to the police in writing by a duly authorized official (not below grade 17) of the government or by an officer with an equivalent distribution licensee.
Power Division intends to outsource bill collection to the private sector, for which plans have been obtained from discos. Various options for the privatization of discos are also being considered, including outsourcing management control to the private sector. However, in recent weeks there has been strong resistance from discos workers and interviews for the post of CEO Lesco have been suspended.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021