Senate Standing Committee on Power is taking up Islamabad Electricity Supply Company (IESCO) scam of bogus bills worth millions of rupees with the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) in its upcoming meeting to ascertain exactly who have been behind fleecing power customers through bogus bills and fake stamps for the last many years.
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is currently probing the scam whose volume can be judged with the fact that over Rs40 million were charged from electricity customers through fake-stamped electricity bills on a single day.
The practice continued for years until the FIA started probe and found out that not only big firms but ordinary customers and low paid income groups were also fleeced by the company officials in connivance with some bank employees and even the customers. In a recent parliamentary meeting the members took the officers of the IESCO to task over embezzlement of millions of rupees through collection of bogus bills from power consumers.
According to details, the billing department of Iesco continued to fleece consumers over the past four years, but neither the company management nor the audit firm could detect the scam.
Iesco CEO Shahid Iqbal told the Senate Standing Committee that the scam had been going on unchecked for the past four years.
“We have terminated officers of the Finance Department (involved in the scandal),” he said. He also revealed that power consumers were also involved in the fraud as they were depositing the bills in the Revenue Office-I with 30pc discount. The head of Circle-I Revenue Office was found involved in the fraud. Sources in FIA told Pakistan Observer not only IESCO but a couple of banks’ employees were also reportedly involved in this mega scandal whose tentacles were linked with some high-ups in both the departments.
Cumulatively, Rs239 million had been embezzled in the past two years as the amount was not deposited in the company accounts. Revenue officer of the Circle-I has been arrested.
Committee Chairman Fida Muhammad Khan asked the CEO whether Iesco was asleep when misappropriation of millions of rupees a day was being done by officials of the company.
“It means other distribution companies may also be facing such a situation,” he pointed out.
Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak asked the Power Division to direct all the distribution companies to probe their record and provide details to the committee. He also sought details of such cases unearthed in the distribution companies over the past 10 years.
Responding to that, the Power Division secretary said he would give orders to all the companies to comply with the instructions.
Senator Wazir asked as to why the private sector audit firm did not unearth the fraud.
The committee would also discuss the issue with officials of the Auditor General of Pakistan in its next meeting.
Wazir said the distribution companies should not waste money on installation of AMI meters as the solution to power theft and illegal connections was in laying Aerial Bundled Cables.
Senator Sirajul Haq questioned as why the government was not introducing a pre-paid card system in the power sector as the system was successfully working in other countries.