ISLAMABAD: Pakistani power distribution companies overcharged some 13 million electricity consumers across the country in July and August this year through inflated bills beyond the mandated 30-day billing period, the national electric power regulator said on Monday.
The revelation was made in a 14-page inquiry report conducted by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), following complaints by the public regarding excessive billing by power distribution companies (discos).
The report comes months after nationwide protests hit the South Asian country, with thousands protesting inflated electricity bills and demanding an inquiry into the billing process as well as ensuring transparency in it.
The power regulator has constituted a four-member committee to look into the matter and present its recommendations to fix the issue.
“There is [not a] single disco in the country who is charging bills in 100 percent correct manner, which is serious matter of concern at present,” NEPRA concluded in its report released on Monday.
“The distribution companies are charging excessive bills to consumers by adopting illegal and unlawful practices, therefore, prima facie, are in violation of the Nepra Act, Consumer Service Manual, terms and conditions of tariff and other applicable documents.”
The inquiry report revealed the billing cycles carried out by distribution companies ranged from above 30 days to 40 days and even more. As per the notified tariff terms and conditions, the billing period means a billing month of 30 days or less reckoned from the date of last meter reading.
“It is alarmingly noted that thousands of consumers were charged for more than 40 days billing,” NEPRA said in its report, adding this was a “major cause” of overbilling during the months of July and August this year.
There are eleven power distribution companies across Pakistan, including K-Electric for Karachi, with millions of consumers. The inquiry report revealed that 13.76 million people were charged for more than 30 days of electricity usage, while 0.4 million were sent average bills due to faulty electricity meters.
NEPRA has decided to initiate legal action against all the power distribution companies in light of the inquiry report.
“The regulator has given thirty days to all the distribution companies to replace the faulty meters and fix the overcharged bills,” Masroor Ahmad Khan, a NEPRA spokesperson, told Arab News.
“Otherwise, strict legal action will be initiated against those failing to comply the directive.”