When I graduated in 1966, the starting salary for engineers in the KESC was Rs. 450 per month plus a technical allowance of Rs. 50 per month. I didn’t join the KESC because it was a government-owned company in those days and everyone knows that working for the government makes a person corrupt, inefficient and useless. My first salary was six hundred rupees per month (at that time my uncle in Bombay-also an engineer like me-was drawing Rs. 400 p.m. and the Pakistan rupee was slightly higher in value than the Indian rupee).
One wonders why salaries are so high nowadays. A couple of years ago the chief executive of Hub Power Company was being paid Rs. 1.8 million p.m. And now we hear that the salary of the new KESC chief (Tabish Gauhar) is 35% higher than what his predecessor was being paid. Mr. Gauhar will draw Rs. 1.3 million per month (U.S. $ 185,000 per year, compared to the U.S. president’s salary of U.S. $ 400,000). In addition, the KESC chief will get free accommodation (up to Rs. 760,000 per month) and other perks (including guards to protect him and his family, annual leave, air fare, medical expenses, etc).
Now, I know that some executives in the banking sector get even higher salaries than this. In fact, some people I know say that the KESC chief should be paid even more. The question arises: why? If the KESC had shown some improvement after privatization, it would have been understandable. But the company is making losses of Rs. fifteen billion per year and its management has not been able to reduce line losses due to rampant theft by power thieves numbering six hundred and fifty thousand. Right now the need of the hour is to cut down on expenses, and one way of doing it is to reduce the salaries and perks given to senior executives (particularly those who work in inefficient companies like the KESC).
It should be remembered that the basic minimum salary in the country is Rs. 6,000 (about seventy dollars) p.m., while sixty million Pakistanis try to survive on less than two dollars a day.