Nangarhar depts owe $15m to power utility

JALALABAD (PAN): Several government departments in eastern Nangarhar province owe more than 800 million afghanis ($15 million) to the Afghanistan Bareshna Shirkat in unpaid electricity bills, an official said on Monday.
“Some departments have cleared their bills, but others are yet to pay any heed to outstanding dues,” Water and Energy Director Mohibur Rahman Momand said in an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News.
He said telecommunications, information technology, public works and rural development departments had cleared their arrears.
Defaulters included the canalisation department that owed a staggering amount of 460 million afghanis (approximately $8.85 million) in the form of unpaid electricity bills.
Other defaulting departments are urban development that owes 105 million afghanis and others, including the governor's office, 22 million afghanis.
"If these outstanding amounts against public sector departments are paid to the power utility, it will be able to supply the facility to every home across the province," Momand claimed. He said the company was in contact with the governor and the provincial council to seek their help in recovery of the liabilities.
"Some departments have taken practical steps to resolve the issue. Many have paid outstanding charges to the company," said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, the governor's spokesman, who acknowledged the governor's office had been asked to clear the arrears.
He said the governor had directed defaulting departments to pay unpaid bills as soon as possible to keep the power system going smoothly.
However, canalisation department officials disputed the amount claimed by the power company. The department head insisted the charges included those consumed by nearby residents who had extended connections from the supply line to the department.
"We are supplied electricity from the Daronta hydropower dam. Residents who have installed check-meters use electricity. The unpaid dues include those payable by dwellers," the official explained.