Guess who WAPDA’s Top Defaulters Are?

3 Jul

It’s the middle of the sweltering hot Summer in Pakistan and power tariffs have been raised yet again by the government. There is pressure from international lenders for Pakistan to raise these tariffs as they will help generate much needed money to invest in Pakistan’s poor energy infrastructure. The burden of the recent tariff increases obviously falls on the poor man and the average middle class Pakistani, as we recalibrate our electricity usage.

Across Pakistan, people fortunate enough to have electricity are afraid to use it because of the astronomical costs associated with it. Families all collect and squeeze into one room in the house in order to use only one air conditioner in the sweltering heat of Summer. And use of even that one air conditioner is intermittent at best because of the frequent power outages.

And then there are those who have no air conditioning at home and can barely even afford a fan. But they can’t even afford to turn on the fan because the factory where they worked on hourly or daily wages suffers from frequent power outages and they are unable to work the entire shift and make the money that they usually make. So all of Pakistan – rich or poor suffers.

Want to know how doesn’t suffer? The government, the military and the judiciary.

Guess who hasn’t paid their bills? The government, the military and the judiciary.

According to a news report published by the BBC the biggest defaulters on electricity bills in Pakistan are ….drumroll…..the government, the military and the judiciary!

According to this news report government institutions owe TWO BILLION DOLLARS in electricity bills. During a speech in parliament, the minister for Water and Power Raja Parvez Ashraf revealed that the Defense Ministry which includes the three Armed Forces is the single biggest defaulter in the country. They owe about Rs. One Billion to Wapda. The presidency owes Rs. 20 Million and the Supreme Court owes about Rs. 2.5 Million.

And while we the common citizens – (whose taxes I might add pay the salaries for all of the defaulters noted above) – sit in the dark with sweat oozing out of every pore, our President, our military Chiefs and Lordships sit in air conditioned style. Tax payers have always paid the electricity bills for these people’s official and private residences but I guess we are now doing it at the expense of electricity in our own homes and at the expense of our economy.

 Its kind of annoying to have government and military officers have subsidized and unchecked use of electricity in their homes when common citizens barely have electricity in theirs. But to know that these institutions don’t even pay their bills despite having electricity provided to them at subsidized rates is worthy of a lot more anger.

Also …..did I mention that according to the constitution of Pakistan, a person is not eligible for a seat in Parliament if they have defaulted on utility bills. And I’m sure the civil and military service have similar rules on default. Makes me wonder what this means for the President and the Minister of Defense – when the institutions that they head have unpaid bills. Maybe some heads should roll? Or maybe we should just get the ball rolling on paying those bills?

And btw, all of this is happening as the government has launched a drive to get private defaulters to pay up otherwise face jail time. Maybe the government should clear its own dues first and then start putting into the jail the people who actually pay for the electricity that runs freely through the corridors of government, military and judicial power.

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