KARACHI: This is with reference to the news item “Gas, power theft: 3 factories fined Rs160m” (July 16). One of the factories that has been mentioned in the story had been stealing electricity and gas for seven years and, incredibly, neither the SNGPL nor the MEPCO officials had suspected any wrongdoing. Or were they complicit in the thefts? If that is the case, one of the first things the government should do is to punish them.

Secondly, since the factory has been fined a total of Rs135 million for gas and electricity theft, and utility charges are two per cent of the cost of production, it is safe to assume that the factory was producing goods worth a billion rupees every year for seven years (on which a sizeable amount of sales tax and income tax should have been paid). Will the income tax and sales tax authorities take action to recover the huge amount of more than a billion rupees, which this factory owner did not pay while he was looting the national exchequer for seven years? Or will this be another typical Pakistani story where the thief is a close relative of some very powerful people in Islamabad and will get away with the scam?

Shakir Lakhani
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2013.