Overbilling persists

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THE National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) on Thursday told the power distribution companies that some companies have overbilled the consumers, directing them to take punitive action against officials involved in the practice.

Multan Electric Power Company (MEPCO) is reported to have taken a lead in penalizing consumers with higher electricity bills by charging monthly bills based on 35 to 52 days.

The case of MEPCO has been highlighted but the practice continues in almost all Discos in varying degrees and one must give credit to the Chairman NEPRA, Tauseef Taruqui, for taking cognizance of the problem as he has directed all Discos including KE to take action against those responsible for conducting meter reading for more than 30 or 31 days, resulting in extra charges to consumers because of overshooting tariff slabs.

While appreciating the interest taken by NEPRA, one must point out what the Ministry of Energy and management of the Discos have been doing as continuation of the practice is impossible without their tacit approval and this amounts to fleecing of the consumers.

This is highly regrettable as the electricity tariff is already on the higher side and delayed meter reading puts extra burden on them.

It is all the more lamentable that the officials concerned justified the overbilling by taking refuge behind lame excuses of holidays, Coronavirus and Ashura, giving an impression that they are not willing to mend their ways.

NEPRA seems to be quite serious on the issue as it asked all Discos to submit detailed reports on the issue with workable solutions as to how to compensate the consumers, a majority of whom did not even notice what the government institutions had actually done to them.

We hope the regulatory authority would take the issue to its logical conclusion and at the same time, the Ministry should also take active interest to resolve it on a priority basis.

There are also other issues of bogus and estimated billing on a regular basis which also need to be addressed.

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