290 employees brought to book over exorbitant bills

Actions have either been taken or under process against 290 staff members of different power distribution companies for issuing around 62 thousand inflated bills among the consumers across the country.

Power Secretary Dr Sultan Ahmed disclosed the matter while briefing reporters through a videoconference about the outcome of the investigation into issuing inflated electricity bills by different power distribution companies on Sunday afternoon.

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.

In the meantime, many consumers received inflated bills and refrained from paying those within their due time hoping that those would be corrected by the bill issuing authorities. But still may consumers’ bills were either not corrected or were under the correction process.

Consumers for the past three months have been complaining about overbilling by the power distribution companies. As the complaints against ghost electricity bills started to pour in across the country, the power division formed a task-force headed by an additional secretary on June 25.

Power Secretary Dr Sultan Ahmed said during the briefing that complaints related to additional charge against proper use of electricity will be resolved soon, as consumers’ relationship continues with trust. Consumers will not have to pay additional charge without regular bill against proper use of electricity.

He said that extension of time for allowing delayed payment of electricity bills without surcharge is now under consideration.
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).

“We’re trying to extend the time for delayed payment without surcharge. But we have to follow certain processes,” he told reporters.

He, however, said no decision has been taken yet about allowing any delayed bill payment without surcharge for commercial and industrial consumers.

Expressing regret to the customer for the extra electricity bill, Sultan Ahmed said, “We are always customer-friendly. Hopefully we will be able to regain their confidence soon. In future, distribution companies won’t prepare bill without reading the meters to avoid such crises.”

According to power division, some 6,296 inflated bills were issued in the country.
The total subscribers of Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB) is 2,90,00000, out of which 34,681 consumers complained about ghost bills whereas Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) received 2,582 complaints.
Dhaka Power Distribution Board (DPDC) issued 15,266 inflated bills.

Dhaka Electric Supply Company (DESCO) issued 5,657 inflated bills out of 10 lakh customers wherein Northern Electric Supply Company (Nesco) has 2,524 customers out of 15.48 lakh customers and West Zone Power Distribution Company (WZPDCL) has 556 customers out of 12.13 lakh customers who got inflated electric bills.

Among others BPDB Chairman Engineer Md Belayet Hossain, Chairman of BREB Major General (Retd) Moin Uddin, Director General of Power Cell Engineer Mohammad Hossain, DESCO Managing Director Md. Kawsar Amir Ali, WZPDCL Managing Director Engineer Md. Safiq Uddin and NESCO Managing Director Engineer Zakiul Islam were present at the briefing.