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PAC ignores agenda to criticise Iesco for power cut at MNA hostel

PAC ignores agenda to criticise Iesco for power cut at MNA hostel

ISLAMABAD: After lawmakers at the old MNA hostel were left without electricity for a few hours Tuesday night, the chief executive of the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) was berated in a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday for disconnecting electricity to the hostel due to the non-payment of bills.

According to Iesco statistics, 361 MNAs and senators together owed the company Rs26 million in unpaid bill and these defaulters include PAC members as well.

The matter was brought up during the meeting when MNA Mian Abdul Manan complained that electricity supply to the hostel had been cut off for five hours the night before.

He said that when he had called the Iesco office, introduced himself and asked that the power supply not be cut off, the official he spoke to had been rude and had said that parliamentarians could not ask to be treated differently, especially since he had not paid for electricity.

Another PAC member, Junaid Anwar Chaudhry, alleged that Iesco had deliberately cut off electricity to the hostel.

“This is a breach of privilege and we will move a privilege motion in the National Assembly,” he warned.

Iesco Chief Executive Khalid Nazir maintained that the supply was disconnected for a few hours as a reminder to the lawmakers of their unpaid dues.

While Iesco management defended the move and said the power supply was interrupted in order to recover the amount due, Secretary of the Ministry of Water and Power Mohammad Younis Dagha adopted a more apologetic tone.

PAC members insisted that PAC Chairman Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah hold an inquiry into the matter, to which Mr Shah said that the aggrieved MNAs should move a privilege motion.

However, Mr Shah could not ignore the calls for an inquiry for long and asked the water and power secretary to inquire into the matter.

He did suggest that in the future, Iesco should only take action against those who do not pay their bills instead of disconnecting supply to the entire MNA hostel.

But Iesco does not have direct access to individual metres, which is why the company cut off supply to the entire building, a senior Iesco official told Dawn.

He said that the Capital Development Authority dealt with individual meters and that if Iesco needed to carry out maintenance or repair work, the civic authority provided access to the faulty meter.

He said that the power company had only wanted to disconnect electricity to the defaulters but security officials at the hostel had stopped them from entering the building.

The official claimed that the water and power secretary had suggested cutting off supply in every meeting, and had adopted an apologetic tone before PAC.

More time was spent talking about MNAs suffering because they did not have electricity for a few hours at PAC’s meeting on Wednesday instead of discussing the audit paras for which the meeting had been scheduled.

After the discussion over Iesco was dealt with, most PAC members left for other commitments and the remaining members examined the audit paras of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources and recommended settlement of most of the audit’s objections.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2016

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