Govt plans further dismantling of Discos

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to further dismantle the ex-Wapda distribution network into smaller distribution units that would increase the number of distribution companies (Discos) to 15 from existing 10.

On Thursday, Federal Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari ordered the managements of the three Discos in Multan, Lahore and Peshawar to immediately take up the proposals for bifurcation of these distribution companies with their board of directors (BOD).

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had issued instructions a couple of weeks ago for bifurcation of four companies including Lesco (Lahore), Gepco (Gujranwala), Pesco (Peshawar) and Qesco (Quetta).

Interestingly, the subject has not yet been taken up at the level of the federal cabinet or the Council of Common Interest (CCI).

The original restructuring of the power sector was initiated under a World Bank sponsored Strategic Plan by a cabinet committee in 1992 and was subsequently endorsed by then federal cabinet.

This led to bifurcation of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) into the power sector and water sector, the later subsequently named Wapda. The power sector was then divided into three generation companies (Gencos), 10 Discos and a national transmission and dispatch company (NTDC) for ultimate privatisation that could not progress for 25 years.

In an order issued on October 13, Prime Minister Abbasi observed that the number of customers and area under command of various distribution companies in the power sector has been on increase during the last few years. With a massive increase in generation and consequential allocation of power to the Discos, it would be important to “fast track the administrative reforms of discos in a holistic manner”.

Therefore, the prime minister ordered that process should be started “with distribution of companies having unmanageably large area or number of customers like Lesco, Gepco, Pesco and Qesco”.

An official said the government had prepared a blue print under which Pesco would be divided into Pesco and Hazara Electric Supply Company, Mepco into Multan and Bahawalpur Electric Supply Company, Lesco into Lahore and Kasur-Okara, etc. As a result, the number of public sector Discos would increase from existing 10 to 15.

While presiding over a meeting on bifurcation of Lesco, Mepco and Pesco, the power minister ordered the chief executive officers of these Discos to “table the consolidated proposals for consideration of BODs immediately” for better management and developing consumers oriented approach.

The minister “directed that BODs of the Discos should be involved in all decision making and their decisions should be implemented in letter and spirit” and ordered the power division to “work out enhancing the capacity of the existing BODs by inclusion of diverse professionals from different walks of life”.

He said the boards should play their vigilant and decisive role in the strategic decision making and should discharge their authority in true letter and spirit as per the corporate governance rules.

Interestingly, the minister also ordered all the Discos to adopt financial autonomy and be able to generate their own funds from the open market instead of from the government even though the federal government particularly the power division has been controlling the financial affairs of the these companies through a series of moves including a uniform tariff for consumers.

A statement quoted the minister as saying that all efforts be made to ensure that Discos’ functions free from political interference. Mr Leghari directed the Discos to take strict administrative actions against those employees who use political or other influence.

The minister expressed serious concern over the human resource departments of Discos which have failed in exploiting the existing potential of their HR and also in strengthening themselves by filling the vacant positions.

He directed that all the vacant positions at officer level be filled at the earliest. The use of HR and filling of vacant posts was bound to bring in more efficiency in their operation. He directed the Discos to introduce lucrative reward for the top performers at each Disco level to encourage healthy competition in their performance.


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