No consumer needs to pay inflated bills: Power Secretary
Staff Reporter :
Power Secretary Dr Sultan Ahmed on Sunday said that extension of time for allowing delayed payment of electricity bills without surcharge is now under consideration.
He made the disclosure while briefing reporters through a videoconference about the outcome of the investigation into issuing inflated electricity bills by different power distribution companies.
Â Earlier, the household electricity consumers were allowed to pay their delayed bills of February, March and April until June 30 due to coronavirus outbreak to avoid social contacts.
Â In the meantime, many consumers received inflated bills and refrained from paying those within their due times hoping that those would be corrected by the bill issuing authority. But still may consumers' bills were either not corrected or were under the correction process.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â Responding to a question on such dilemma, the power secretary said that the issue was discussed with positive outlook with Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC).
Â "We're trying to extend the time for delayed payment without surcharge. But we have to follow cerrtain process for it," he told reporters. He, however, said there no decision as yet on allowing any delayed bill payment without surcharge for commercial and industrial consumers.
The power secretary informed that they have detected 34,681 inflated bills issued by Bangladesh Rural Electyicity Board (BREB), 15,266 inflated bills by DPDC, 5,657 by DESCO, 2,524 by NESCO 555 by WZPDC and 2,582 bills by BPDB.
Â Altogether, over 61,265 inflated bills were issued by the power distribution companies. For such wrong doings, so far actions were either taken or under process against 290 staff of different power distribution companies, he added.Â Â Â Â
Â For issuing such inflated bills, four officials of DPDC were suspended while 14 meter readers of the outsourcing company were terminated, and 36 divisional engineers of DPDC were issued show-cause notices.
Â Similarity, department actions were taken against other officials of other distribution companies as per their service rules, said Sultan Ahmed.
Â "The actions are being taken to regain the confidence of the consumers," he said. Â
Â He also noted that taking action against any official is a matter of certain process which has to be followed in these cases.
Â "But anyone involved in the bill inflating process will be spared while no one will get punished illegally," he said.
Â During the virtual press briefing, top officials of the distribution companies said that they would not further follow any manual system in preparing the electricity bills.
Â "Rather, cent percent bills will be prepared by following the computerised system to avoid any error in issuing bills," said DPDC Managing Director Bikash Dewan.