Minister faces resistance to abolish ‘free electricity’ – 12 Nov 2022

Khurram benefit is according to job agreement

Power Minister Khurram Dastgir on Friday said the ministry was struggling to withdraw benefits such as free electricity units to the employees of government-owned power sector entities and added the ministry needed support to do so amid a strong reaction from employees.

The minister explained that the supply of free-of-cost electricity to the employees of power distribution companies was according to their job agreement, adding they were entitled to this facility.

He was responding to a question raised by PPP MNA Nasiba Channa, who questioned the free electricity being supplied to retired employees of Wapda, in the National Assembly.

“Should the benefits given to the employees according to the contract be withdrawn?” he asked and pointed out that there has been a strong reaction from the employees when the ministry sought to do this before.

Widows of employees also get these benefits, he added. However, the minister hinted at the possibility this facility can be withdrawn with the support of public representatives.

Khurram Dastgir also said that the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) will have its own transformer repair workshop by June 2023.

The ministry has issued directions in this regard and the work has been started, said the minister responding to a question raised by MNA Salahuddin.

The minister said that HESCO during the fiscal year 2020-21 spent 98.722 million on repair maintenance of transformers and during 2021-22 spent 175.899 million rupees while repairing 841 transformers.

He informed that he visited Hyderabad on the direction of the prime minister and spent five days during the early time of floods in Sindh and was shocked to know about the issues regarding the repair of transformers in Hyderabad.

He told the house that HESCO had made an agreement for the repair of transformers with three private companies and these companies following the guidelines of PPMS about repair and maintenance perform their job.

Unfortunately, in some of the areas people collect funds for the repair and maintenance of transformers in this region and get them repaired through private vendors without following guidelines, he told the house.

He said his ministry has issued clear directions to HESCO to establish their own repair workshop before 30th June 2023.

About low voltage, the minister said that his ministry has already issued directions to make earthing of all transformers across the country along with balancing all three phases of the transformer for ensuring the provision of full voltage to the consumers.

He said employees of distribution companies do not provide earth to the transformer and balance the load of three phases due to which the transformer fails to provide full voltage.

Pakistani prisoners in China

Meanwhile, according to a report presented in the house by the ministry of foreign affairs, there were currently 236 Pakistanis imprisoned in China, including 3 women.

Out of these, 121 Pakistanis are serving their term in Beijing, 12 in Shanghai and 13 in Chengdu, along with 90 others in other places.

It said that the agreement between Pakistan and China on the transfer of convicted persons came into force in October 2020 while the application for the transfer of the first batch of 21 Pakistanis under the agreement was submitted to the Chinese Ministry of Justice in March 2022.

The Pakistani mission is in touch with the Chinese authorities to approve the transfer of the first batch, it added.

Meanwhile, in a written reply to the National Assembly, it was told that 397 people were recruited in the Election Commission of Pakistan from 2018 to 2021.

In 2018, 18 people were recruited and in 2019, the then-PTI-led federal government gave jobs to 188 people. Similarly, 55 people were given jobs in the commission in 2020 while 136 were recruited in 2021.

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