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Editorial: The dilemma of defaulting

The dilemma of being unable to collect electricity bills has turned commonplace across the country for the power distribution company. Once again, the power utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Shirkat (DABS) grumbles about defaulters who refuse to pay their arrears. According to a list released, power supply to the consumers defaulting on a total amount of 994 million Afs was severed in a few provinces, including the capital Kabul. But the downside of the situation is that in addition to some strongmen and powerful figures, it’s been long since government institutions also owe money to the power utility. These defaulters have been reportedly asked thrice to pay their bills, but to no avail and thus their power lines were finally disconnected. Such measures of cutting electricity and introducing the nonpayers to the Attorney General Office (AGO) haven’t been successful in achieving the intended results in the past. As DABS has so far been unable to collect the outstanding power bills despite trying consistently, the situation requires some extreme measures and tactics to be used to make the strongmen pay their bills. For instance, the use of strict law enforcement with the help of the government should be considered. Moreover, the government institutions who fail to pay up the amount of money they owe the company, should immediately find a solution and cease acting like this. It’s because the rest of the people find it a justification for themselves by saying if government organizations don’t pay, why should we? Therefore, the government should initiate bringing the government-related defaulters to book in order to set a lesson for the others. Also, cutting off the power lines by DABS should be stringent and long-lasting to bring effect and not temporary. Moreover, the defaulters should realize that not paying bills to the power utility affects the power supply to the whole country. As we don’t have much of our own production, DABS primarily acts as a broker of power between Central Asian countries and Afghanistan by importing and buying electricity and then selling it to consumers. Therefore, when people resist to pay their electricity bills, the company is rendered unable to pay the sellers. The defaulting issue has made the company to ask for loan to meet its needs against the backdrop of experiencing a 60-percent decrease in its revenues due to the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The government should devise a mechanism and solution to end this never-ending trend of defaulting and possibly prevent the company from going bankrupt – something that would ultimately deprive Afghanistan of the utility while the country is already facing scarcity of the commodity.

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