Islamabad: The business community in a meeting at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry appreciated the move of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for ordering concerned authorities to take stern action against those involved in electricity and gas theft and termed it a much needed initiative.
They vowed to fully support all efforts of the government aimed at nabbing the big power theft mafia to control the massive pilferage of electricity and gas.
Chairing the meeting, Zafar Bakhtawari, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that as per NEPRA report, Pakistan is losing power worth Rs.40 billion every year on account of electricity theft while government had been providing Rs.394 billion subsidy per annum to power sector, which shows how the taxpayers money is being wasted on keeping inefficient entities afloat.
He said if this dangerous trend is not arrested immediately, the country would never be able to overcome energy crisis that has already crippled trade & industry and badly affected the economic growth.
ICCI President said the massive theft of electricity and gas casts very negative impact on the economy as it creates energy shortage, hits business & industry, raises electricity cost, increases circular debt and discourages new investment in power sector.
He said government should introduce latest technology and smart meters to control electricity theft along with launching a national campaign to control power theft.
Zafar Bakhtawari said that deregulation of power sector and privatization of GENCOs and DISCOs could also be another good option to get rid of power theft and improve the performance of very inefficient power companies.
He said along with taking administrative measures to control power theft, government should also take structural decisions and focus on harnessing cheap energy sources including hydel, coal, solar, wind & biomass, which is a sustainable solution of energy crisis.
The businessmen were of the view that government should arrange equal load shedding in all the provinces so that businessmen could adjust their production schedules and people could also make arrangements to cope with the power outages.