Iraq loses more than $61m monthly in uncollected electricity fees in Baghdad: MP

Iraqis walk beneath a web of electric wires in the Syed Sultan Ali area of the capital Baghdad, on July 13, 2020, used to draw electricity from private generators due to an unreliable national electricity supply amid high temperatures. (Photo Credit: Sabah Arar/ AFP via Getty Images)

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SULAIMANI — Member of the Council of Representatives’ Oil and Energy Committee Amjad al-Uqabi on Sunday (January 17) claimed that the government is leaving nearly 90 billion Iraqi dinars ($61.43 million) on the table in uncollected electricity fees and other problems with the electricity distribution network in Baghdad.

Sairoon lawmaker Amjad al-Uqabi told state media al-Sabah newspaper that the government should launch a program using prepaid meters with a card reader to address the problem.

He also said that the distribution network is vulnerable to electricity theft and that transformers are often damaged or become inefficient because of weather and high temperatures.

“The Ministry of Electricity has demanded approval of a [underground] distribution system to replace overhead power lines,” he said of the country’s electrical network, which he noted has been neglected for decades and is no long fit for purpose.

“We can find 150 to 200 transformers that broke down on Thursday as a result of their exposure to rain. This costs the Ministry of Electricity huge sums just to replace them,” he said, adding that each new transformer costs between 7 and 8 million dinars ($4,780 to $5,460).

During the summer months, protests demanding improved public services, including electricity, are common in in central and southern Iraq, putting pressure both on Baghdad and provincial governorates to find solutions.

(NRT Digital Media)