Wednesday, December 17, 2008

KESC inflated bills and the Karachiites

THE KESC Management has introduced a facilitation desk service, to be set up at the offices of various trade and industry associations in Karachi. These desks are an extension of KESC’s rapidly improving customer facilitation initiative, and have been set up in response to a need expressed by commercial and industrial consumers for the resolution of current billing issues, as well as to provide a point of contact for the industry to liaison with the Company for any other KESC related matters.The desks, to be manned by KESC officials, will be set up at the offices of KATI, SITE, Federal B Area, North Karachi and KCCI, effectively covering all commercial and industrial organizations operating within the jurisdiction of KESC.

However, residential and non-commercial consumers can continue to utilize the large network of KESC Customer Service Centres spread across the city.Asif Siddiqui, Director Business Operation said, “As a professional organization servicing the energy needs for a city like Karachi, we are aware of the role that KESC plays in facilitating commercial and industrial activity in the city. These desks are a public service initiative by KESC, indicating our willingness to help boost the country’s economy.”Incorporated in 1913, KESC is the only vertically integrated power utility in Pakistan, working in the areas of generation, transmission and distribution. It serves the electricity needs of Pakistan’s largest city Karachi and its surrounding areas, with a 2.2 million strong customer base. It has a licensed network spanning 6,000 square kilometres. Through a combination of self generation and power import from IPP’s and the national utility WAPDA/NTDC, KESC’s total supply capacity is approximately 2,344 MW, which is never utilized. There is a question mark on above announcement of the utility and one wonders whether the setting up of facilitation desk service by its management would solve the real grievances of Karachiites?

The business community and general public strongly feel that with the drastic reduction of oil price in both international & domestic market, the electricity prices should also come down in proportionately for all classes of consumers. But KESC instead of reducing its tariff further increased the bills in preceding months. On the other hand its loading shedding was continued just to save expenses on furnace oil and earning huge profits. It could be assessed from the fact that a residential consumer who had paid Rs3,100/- for using 521 units of electricity in September 2008 was demanded Rs4,900/- in October for using 585 units. After countrywide protests like others; this bill was reduced by 40 percent on government instructions to Rs2,940/- and the next month it was charged by KESC with same 40 percent reduction as Rs1,577/- for the consumed units of 375. But in December the same consumer is billed Rs3,700/- by including Rs2,997.97 towards arrears while he had consumed 317 units only. This is height of deception by a utility company.

Karachiites have already urged Federal Minister of Power & Water to decrease the electricity tariff as per the decrease in prices of furnace oil. It was strongly felt and believed that any tariff enhancement would have adverse effects on the politico-economic conditions of the country and could lead to serious law & order situation which could spin out of control.It was appealed to Ministry of Water & Power to take immediate action to control the situation arising out of the KESC inflated bills, failing which there would be no option but to announce not to pay the KESC inflated bills until they are rectified.Few days back it was requested by trader bodies to install a cell by KESC at Karachi Chamber with powers to rectify the inflated bills. Many of the bills are loaded with 40 percent arrears whereas the arrears should have been as per the amended increase which was much lower than 40 percent. KESC is not abiding its own declared policy of charging 50 percent as arrears of the new enhanced tariff but it was billing indifferently like: 40 percent charged, total arrears charged, and 50 percent arrears charged.KESC has not restored the previously available slab system resulting to inflated bills for small consumers.

Late payment surcharge on deferred 40 percent has also been charged whereas the deferment was in agreement with the ministry. Real issue for KESC and its management is to rectify the increased power/ electric tariff & issuance of incorrect bills on immediate basis.It may be mentioned here that a few months back KESC had announced to constitute a Special Desk at KCCI comprising two officials for modification and revision of Electricity Bills issued to consumers as announced by the Federal Minister for Water & Power.

They did send an engineer on the request of Karachi Chamber. But the gentleman who came to KCCI did not had any power to correct the bills rather he was requesting the members and consumer to pay the in-correct bills and they would receive corrected & adjusted bills in the next month which was not acceptable looking at the past track wherein they were not corrected for years.

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