Power Division still vague on delayed bill payment
Power Division has admitted that many consumers received inflated electricity bills across the country during general holidays but it did not disclose the exact number of victims saying that "some organization is still working on departmental investigation process."
It did not give any clear cut decision over the extension of time for allowing delayed payment of electricity bills without surcharge for the consumers, Power Division Secretary Dr Sultan Ahmed made all these decision to the media on Sunday.
"No decision has yet been taken on allowing any delayed bill payment without surcharge for the consumers. We are discussing the issue with the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC); however, we are looking into the issue," the Power Division secretary said.
He was briefing the media through a videoconference about the outcome of the investigation by the "Taskforce" into the issuing of inflated electricity bills by different power distribution companies.
All together, over 61,265 inflated bills were issued by the power distribution companies. For such wrongdoings, so far, actions were either taken or under process against 290 staff members of different power distribution companies, he added.
But it is yet to get the full scenario from REB, they are still working on it, their consumer number is huge, we will get a whole picture from the organization shortly. NESCO is also carrying the investigation.
"None involved in the
bill inflating process will be spared while no one will get punished illegally," Sultan said adding that four officials of DPDC were temporarily suspended while 14 meter readers of the outsourcing company were terminated, and 36 divisional engineers of DPDC were issued show-cause notices.
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, 2524 by NESCO 555 by WZPDC and 2582 bills by BPDB so far.
During the virtual press briefing, top officials of the distribution companies said that they would not follow the manual system in preparing the electricity bills any more.
Amid a serious criticism across the country over the billing issue, the government formed the "Taskforce" on June 28 to punish the employees and officials involved in preparing the bills for the month of March, April and May."
"We're trying to extend the time for delayed payment without surcharge. But we have to follow certain process for it", the secretary said.
Earlier, the government announced that, consumers are not to pay surcharge and late fee for the electricity bills of February, March and April due to coronavirus pandemic.
In the meantime, many consumers received inflated electricity bills and refrained from paying those bills within their due times hoping that those would be corrected by the bill issuing authorities. But still may consumers' bills were either not corrected or under the correction process, when asked what would be the fate of these bills, he did not reply.
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).
"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.
"As per the findings of the Taskforce, the government suspended tiny fishes, what about the Chairman and Managing Directors? Do we have to believe that the junior officials were so powerful and independent that they can make an average bill or inflated bill by passing the seniors or top bosses," energy adviser to Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Professor Shamsul Alam once again asked and said that CAB will go to the Human Rights Commission to ensure poor and rural people's rights as the Taskforce findings did not find out the real situation of REB consumers'.
"We hard their (REB's consumers ) voice during public hearing in BERC, we know the situation of the rural people here. But, the government is trying to save the high-ups and fired the junior employees. It is not justice, Shamsul Alam said.