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Govt goes for countrywide crackdown against smuggling, power theft

Govt goes for countrywide crackdown against smuggling, power theft


Bugti says FC foiled bid to transport sugar illegally to Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD (Web Desk) – As Pakistan’s economy is crippled by a record-high inflation and the actors manipulating the market with the state of affairs complicated by energy crisis, top government officials on Wednesday announced a countrywide crackdown against smugglers and power thieves in attempt to reduce the losses suffered by national exchequer and control the rising prices of different commodities.

In this connection, Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti – in a message posted on X, the social media platform which was formally known as Twitter – said the FC (Frontier Corps) had foiled an attempt last night to smuggle sugar to Afghanistan.

A crackdown had been launched against to curb smuggling across the country on the directives of Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, he added.

The move comes as the sugar prices are rising at an alarming rate in Pakistan due to market manipulation by millers and dealers as well as illegal movement of the sweetener across the western borders of the country amid the food security challenge triggered by the all-time high persistent inflation.

On the other hand, Muhammad Ali and Murtaza Solangi – two members of the caretaker cabinet – announced the planned crackdown against electricity theft as the huge line losses, rising cost of imported fuel for power generation and the capacity charges have inflated the monthly bills to a record level.

“The background is that in our country, some domestic consumers steal electricity and others don’t pay bills,” Ali said as the government action will target both those not paying their dues and involved in power theft.

Informing the reporters that Kakar had ordered the relevant quarters to carry out the action, he added, “In every area, there are varying levels of theft and there are different percentages of recovery [payments].”

While revealing that the annual loss due to electricity theft and failure to pay bills currently stands at Rs589 billion, Ali said power theft meant that others were forced to pay higher bills and admitted that the power tariff couldn’t be reduced unless the practice was stopped.

The minister said the losses were higher in the region covered by Discos [power distribution companies] supplying electricity to Peshawar, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir regions.

About executing the plan, Ali said the government had communicated with chief secretaries and police chiefs in provinces and “we have their full support in implementing this [plan]”.

Meanwhile, the officials assisting the culprits in electricity pilferage would also face the consequences. “We have prepared a list of officers who are involved in the theft,” the minister said.