NEPRA sleeves up to fine K-Electric heavily

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KARACHI: National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) after completion of almost 2-year inquiry has found K-Electric (KE) formerly known KESC guilty for deliberately charging average and assess billing.
The Authority warned the power utility to submit detail reply in this regard or face a fine up to Rs 100 million.
NEPRA issued show-cause notice on March 12, 2014 on which it was mentioned the Consumer Affairs Division (CAD) received six complaints regarding overcharge billing emails direction to head of regional officers of power utility by former Financial and Distribution Deputy General Manager Shoaib Siddiqui.
The report related to over charge billing directions from Siddiqui was first broke out by Daily Times on September 22, 2012. 
According to the previous reports, the former Deputy General Manager Distribution and Finance KE Siddiqui on September 19, 2012 directed all GMs of region I to increase 50 units straight away for all the consumers that were billed on assessed and average mode previous month and to increase 10 to 15 units of all the consumers being billed on normal mode. However, soon after emergence of reports a large number of consumers moved to CAD and registered their complaint. Initially, KE denied the stance of media and complainers and termed the reports ‘propaganda’ by KE Labour Union but later the power utility management started claiming the email and directions were issued by Siddiqui and there was no involvement of upper management and issued charge-sheet to Siddiqui (news published in Daily Times on October 1, 2012).
In response CAD on April 2, 2013 directed the power utility to provide evidence of the emails, which were sent by Siddqui by his own and not on the directions of upper management and no average or assess billing were sent to consumers.
Another hearing was held on June 4, 2013 in which KE again ignored NEPRA’s instructions assigning former deputy general manager (Finance) Siddiqui for hearing bogus billing case (news published in Daily Times June 5, 2013).
Following the pressure of concern authorities, Siddiqui resigned from the Company to join Byco, also owned by the Abraaj Group. 
Later the concern authority issued notice to Siddiqui to attend hiring or face arrest warrant. Afterwards Siddiqui faced the inquiry committee and accepted he had sent directions via email on the directives of KE Chairman Tabish Ghohar.
Sources said, “Despite passing due date, the power utility has failed in submitting reply to NEPRA.”
K-Electric spokesperson in this regard said, “The notice had been based upon NEPRA’s unproven assumption by applying an isolated incident of unauthorised emails upon the huge distribution territory of KE, which was not supported by the facts and was against the ethics.
KE rejected NEPRA’s show cause notice, which was merely based on speculation and was not in the context of the provisions of NEPRA Act and regulations and hence unlawful.”
He claimed an ex-employee from one out of four regions of KE had issued such mischievous and unauthorised emails to his colleagues and superiors.
However, through quick and pre-emptive measures taken after the said emails. “NEPRA had fell victim to negative campaign spread by vested interest against the power utility and its private management,” KE claimed.
The Sindh High Court had on March 26, 2014 issued notice to NEPRA and had clearly said NEPRA was not capable to make any final order in the matter without the permission of the Court, KE claimed.

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