KE defends bank charges in monthly bills

* Utility says it is legally allowed to collect bank charges from consumers
KE defends bank charges  in monthly bills

KARACHI: The K-Electric (KE), formerly Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC), on Wednesday again clarified that collection of bank charges in monthly bills is legal and as per National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) order issued in 2010.
The KE categorically denied some media reports, saying that it was NEPRA who had made an order in its determination after proper hearing in 2010, through which the KE was legally allowed to collect bank charges in its monthly bills from consumers. The press statement said that other DISCOs in the country are also collecting bank charges, which are hidden in their respective tariffs. 
“The KE is the only entity that shows bank charges separately on its monthly bill and hence KE’s conduct in openly disclosing the same in monthly bills for a number of years is lawful and beyond criticism,” the KE spokesman said in a statement. In this regard, sources in power sector informed Daily Times that more than two million consumers of KE will benefit from the decision of NEPRA, as KE was receiving collection in duplicate.
He stated that in 2002, NEPRA had included Rs 6 in tariff of KE as bank charges. However, in 2010 they also got permission of taking another Rs 8 as bank charges, which was an illegal and undue favour from NEPRA. But newly appointed NEPRA officials lately directed the KE to stop taking collecting banking charges. He further mentioned that bill charges were not the only single activity of KE that was burdening the consumers.
“KE is recovering Rs 7.5 per month from the consumers in context of meter rent, whereas, the cost of the meter is paid by the consumer at the time of its installation. Hence, collecting rent on the meter is another way to mint money,” he said, adding that KE also charges Rs 35 per month from commercial, residential, industrial consumers and even mosques and churches, whereas, collected amount, which is in billions, goes in the pocket of the power utility officials instead of being paid to the concerned authority. 
“KE is recovering sale tax from all the consumer at rate of 16% of the bill but haven’t paid the collection to government from last three years, resulting in the loss of billions to government,” sources said, adding that since 2010 KE has also stopped paying 5% interest to all consumers on account of their security deposit. “At the time of privatisation, government used to give Rs 5 billion subsidy to company annually but now they are taking Rs 76 billion annually and despite taking huge amount as a subsidy KE also imposed fuel adjustment charges on its consumer quarterly,” he said.
“With its clever attitude, the company use to send bogus and average billing to its hundred of consumers, to earn maximum illegal profit,” he concluded. In this regard, KE inner sources informed that they received directions and specific target for collection and to achieve the targets managers of localities office sends bogus and average billing with false allegations. “We are bound to do this because if one does not achieve the target, he/she faces termination,” he mentioned.
Regarding issues, different people have sent written complains and applications to federal minister of water and power and NEPRA but no action has been taken so far. While on the other hand, the KE categorically stated that NEPRA had approved bank charges back in 2010 after proper deliberations, and these charges are not part of KE tariff and therefore recovered separately. 

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