The Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) on Wednesday disconnected power supply to the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).
The two organisations have locked horns over Rs 930 million outstanding dues that a KESC spokesman claimed the PSM owed to the utility on account of electricity bills of three months, March, April and May.
A PSM spokesperson, however, differed with the volume of outstanding amount, saying his organisation owed no more than Rs 480 million to the KESC.
“The KESC has disconnected electricity to the PSM,” PSM spokesman Shazim Akhtar told Pakistan Today.
When contacted, a KESC spokesman confirmed the PSM’s claim, adding that the supply was disconnected at around 8:30pm due to the latter’s failure to respond positively to the utility’s repeated demands for the clearance of dues.
“The disconnection is due to non-payment of Rs 930 million outstanding bills the PSM has to pay to the KESC,” Ahmed Faraz told Pakistan Today.
The KESC spokesman said the PSM had also not complied with the Sindh High Court’s order according to which the PSM was to pay at least Rs 550 million to the utility immediately.
“After repeated notices, we set a 24-hour deadline for the PSM yesterday to pay Rs 550 million to us. They, however, failed to meet the deadline. We thus went for the supply cut,” Faraz said.
The KESC spokesman said the PSM had earlier “verbally” asked his side to break the outstanding dues into easy instalments. “They wanted the payments to be on a daily basis. Like Rs 10 million today, Rs 5 million tomorrow and so on. We rejected the offer,” said Faraz.
He went on to claim that despite the company’s consistent correspondence, the PSM had never been able to respond to it in black and white.
To the PSM spokesman’s post-disconnection statements on television channels that the Steel Mill was ready to make the payment in the shape of Rs 100 million immediately on Thursday (today) and then Rs 20 million on a monthly basis, Faraz said no offer would now be considered by the KESC management if it was not in a written form.
“We will only consider it if the PSM gives it in black and white,” said the KESC spokesman.
On the other hand, PSM spokesman Akhtar claimed that his side owed only Rs 480 million to the utility. “No, the amount owed is Rs 480 million,” he said.
The PSM side seems to be in a mood to make any adjustment as Akhtar said, “The KESC has to pay Rs 130 million to the PSM.”
To this, the KESC spokesman said it would welcome even if the PSM had the moral courage to pay the claimed Rs 480 million.”
“Altogether they owe us Rs 930 million,” Faraz insisted.
Whoever is right, it is the national exchequer that is the ultimate loser as the supply cut to the state-owned steel giant would reflect adversely on its production that KESC spokesman claimed was currently at 12 percent.
“Nowhere in the world a steel mill is kept functioning with 12 percent output. It must be 15 percent minimum. If they can’t run it, just shut it down,” said Faraz.
Akhtar parried a query on the setback the PSM would be braving in its production because of Wednesday’s development. Faraz claimed that the PSM’s monthly electricity bills amounted to Rs 300 million.