ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has directed the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) to conduct an audit of power distribution companies sending bills of extended periods to their customers. The distribution companies throughout the country have been overbilling their users since January this year, with some going as far as issuing bills for 35 to 37 days in a single month. The parliamentary committee issued the orders after taking notice of reports about the collection of millions of rupees from consumers by the Discos. The meeting was held to examine the accounts of the Ministry of Communication and its attached departments for the year 2019-20. Opposition criticizes govt Reacting to the investigative report, both the country’s major Opposition parties had censured the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) and the government for “looting” people. PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that sending power bills for 36-37 days is equivalent to “robbing people in broad daylight”. PPP leader Sherry Rehman had also criticised how the power companies are “looting people of hundreds of millions of rupees” by bending the rules. Power minister orders probe Taking notice of the investigation, Federal Energy Minister Hammad Azhar had also directed concerned officials to carry out the probe into the matter. Hammad Azhar had announced on Twitter that he has instructed relevant officials to “compile billing data and screen it for any occurrence and frequency of this (overbilling) issue”. Consumers overbilled In the report, it was revealed that sine January 2021, multiple power distribution companies across the country had overbilled their consumers. According to the bills reviewed by Geo.tv, Karachi’s K-Electric (KE), the Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO), Islamabad Electric Supply Company Limited (IESCO), Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (FESCO), Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO), Multan Electric Power Company (MEPCO), Gujranwala Electric Power Company (GEPCO) and the Sukkur Electric Power Company (SEPCO) each billed their customers for more than 31 days in a single month, on more than one occasion since January 2021. The overbilling is a gross violation of a key condition set by NEPRA in its agreement with each of these power distribution companies. The agreement states that all tariffs for the residential customers are applicable only on a maximum billing period of 31 days. However, NEPRA took a lax approach despite being alerted to the issue. And stated that it will only address individual cases of overbilling when they are filed through its consumer complaint channel.