Islamabad, Feb 26 (IANS) A Pakistani power company issued 67 million “wrong bills” to 20 million consumers last year, said an editorial in a leading Pakistani daily that stressed that “sending inflated bills to the public is a cruel joke”.
An editorial in the Dawn Saturday said: “Overcharging is a disease not unknown to Pakistanis. But while in the market one has a choice about how much extra to pay, the same is not the case when it comes to paying for utilities, as consumers have no say when it comes to setting power tariffs.”
It said that the Pakistan Electric Power Company issued 67 million “wrong bills” to 20 million consumers in the last six months of 2010.
“Apparently, this is not an anomaly as the number of wrong bills issued during the last financial year was 80 million. Insiders admit that over-billing is a major issue while some say the practice suits the power sector.
“Over-billing is considered a convenient way to make up for lost revenue because of power theft while the cumbersome process of getting bills corrected allows corrupt staffers to make some illegal cash on the side. Yet nothing is done to stop this malpractice.”
The editorial noted that due to “rising inflation, high fuel costs and constantly increasing power tariffs, sending inflated bills to the public is a cruel joke”.
It wrapped up saying that “revelations like these confirm people`s suspicions about over-billing by utility companies and meters that run faster than they should. Over-billing the public is no solution for the ineptitude of power companies and their inability to contain power theft and line losses”.
The editorial suggested that the state “take immediate action to reform the billing system and to ensure that the power sector stops fleecing the public by issuing inflated bills”.