ISLAMABAD - Country’s circular debt in the power sector had risen to Rs 795 billion, Secretary Ministry of Energy & Power Division Irfan Ali told Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday in the Parliament House.

The subcommittee chaired by Naveed Qamar was reviewing audit paras from 2016-17 against the Ministry of Energy & Power Division.

The secretary said his ministry was working day and night to control power theft and making recoveries and it was getting good results. He informed the committee Sukkur Electric Power Company (SEPCO) suffered the minimum loss (13%) due to power theft adding the present government was determined to control electricity theft.

The audit officials told the committee that the national exchequer suffered a loss of 721 billion rupees due to misuse of incentive package in Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO). Giving details of incentive package the audit officials told that the package was given due to flood in 2010. They informed the committee that there was an embezzlement of Rs 38 million in which the official staff was also involved.  However, some of those involved in corruption were still in service and many had retired honorably.  The committee directed the officials to appear before the committee who conducted the inquiry.

Audit officials further informed the committee that PESCO did unjustified over billing of Rs 708 million on the connections which were permanently disconnected merely to conceal their line losses.

PESCO chief told the committee that Charsadda and  Mardan were the most troubled areas where people were using “Kunda” as well as meter and in some cases, people were using just “Kunda” while abandoning the electricity meter.

However, FIRs were registered against all those involved in power theft and in the light of those FIRs many arrests were made, the PESCO chief said. A campaign was needed to educate the people of those areas that power theft was a crime, he added.

Secretary Irfan Ali said that four discos including PESCO, SEPCO, HESCO and KESKO were they defaulting discos and out of these four, PESCO is number one. He said in Punjab, power was stolen  directly from the meter whereas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and  Baluchistan, ‘kunda’ (hook) was used for power theft.

The committee directed the secretary to conduct an inquiry and expose the corrupt officials involved in the corruption and submit the report to the committee.