We Pakistanis have become so used to being victimised that no one ever protested against the ten percent penalty imposed by the KESC against late payment of bills. I suppose we should be thankful that the other two utilities extort only five percent, even though that is quite high.

Against this, in India the penalty for late payment of electric bills is quite low. The consumer is allowed a grace period of ten days, during which no penalty is charged. After this, the penalty is levied on a sliding scale at the rate of 30 percent per year. For instance, if payment of an electric bill of Rs1,000 is made two weeks after the due date, the penalty is only Rs12 (and not Rs100, as in the case of the KESC). I know that this will have no effect on those who decide such things in Pakistan, but the least we can do is to inform them that we know we are being looted.

Shakir Lakhani

Published in Jang on June 15, 2005