KARACHI, April 2: Karachi Electric Supply Company has rejected the false claim of shortage of funds with Water Board for paying its electricity bills, pointing out that the government already provided a handsome separate fund regularly to the board for the purpose but this money is misused on various other pretexts.
Referring to the recent propaganda campaign launched by Water Board chief in media, KESC termed it as a cover up for the Water Board's own willful errors and defaults and said that certainly the Board was a public service utility but that did not give it a right to extort money and exploit this important task for blackmailing purposes. For example, last year the Water Board was provided a huge amount of Rs. 3.5 billion for paying electricity dues, but its management did not pay power bills with that fund but instead diverted the money to other areas where it could benefit certain individuals. This year too, the board has been extorting quite huge funds but has not been paying its power bills.
Every month, the Water Board extorts huge funds from the Government on the pretext of paying power bills but then it misuses that money. The recent propaganda campaign and threats of water scarcity by the Board’s MD are part of another such attempt which would obviously end at the Government releasing emergency funds for power dues but that could also go waste as it has so many times in the past if its transactions were not strictly monitored.
Apart from the special and emergency funds, it was a clear responsibility of the Water Board to recover its monthly bills from the general water consumers. Failure of doing so was not as simple as the Board chief would like the world to believe and the Water Board had never undertaken serious recovery efforts. It seemed that the Water Board officials have been ignoring bill recovery job under a well thought and pre-planned “policy” to extort emergency funds.
KESC said that the Water Board management needs to spare the already hard pressed Karachi citizens from its dirty politics and extortion games with government funds and avoid using blackmail tactics and negative media campaigns as well as start paying its power bills without delay on regular basis. For a long time KESC had been exercising a lenient attitude towards the recurring bill defaults of the Water Board but after the dues had reached over Rs. 17 billion, it became no longer possible for KESC in view of its own financial debts and drop in power generation that arose because of shortage of cash inflow as well as natural gas to continue such informal arrangements without end.
KESC demanded of the government to take extra precautions while paying any funds to the Water Board and make sure that the money was used properly where it was intended. Pointing to the recent Supreme Court judgment in the rental power projects case, the KESC spokesman pointed out that the Supreme Court had directed all government functionaries to act in accordance with law in an open and transparent manner and immediately take steps, inter alia, to reduce the circular debt burden on power utility companies.
It was also pointed out that KWSB had already knocked on the doors of the Honourable Sindh High Court and obtained an order dated February 27, 2012 to deposit Rs. 1 Billion in cash with the Nazir of the Court as well as Rs. 4 Billion bank securities with the Nazir as well but for its own personal reasons, KWSB had intentionally defaulted with compliance of the same and was in breach of the said order. The case is still pending before the Sindh High Court, yet KWSB had launched a vicious propaganda campaign against KESC and has even taken the step of writing to the Federal Government to contest any payments being made directly by the Federal Government to KESC in respect of KWSB dues, which was contrary to norms of good governance and transparency.