IT should now be sufficiently clear that the outcome of the election has hinged, more than anything else, on the power crisis. More than the handouts of income-support programmes, it has been electricity and gas shortages that have played a decisive part in the electoral defeat of the PPP. The growing difficulties that Pakistan is having in providing electricity to the common man, and in meeting its requirements of primary energy, are becoming a key test for governments; it is an issue perhaps more fundamental than anything else because it touches so intensely and so universally on the lives of so many. Taking this task lightly, and it can be argued that the PPP-led government did indeed take its responsibilities in this area lightly, would be a serious mistake.

For the incoming government of Nawaz Sharif, the real test lies in this area. The job ahead for the PML-N is not an easy one. What we call the power crisis is in fact a complex, multidimensional crisis of governance and fiscal affairs. It is technical in nature only to the extent that improving powerhouse efficiencies and bringing down line losses can help wring a few more megawatts out of the outdated generation and transmission system. It is as much a ‘software’ issue, in the sense that realigning incentives, bringing about transparency and choking off spaces for discretionary decision-making in the power bureaucracy are equally a part of the job. A comprehensive approach is required at this point, one which aims to improve the finances of the power bureaucracy through improving recoveries and improving transparency so that we know where the money is going and where the electricity is being delivered.

If after 100 days in office, Mr Sharif should find himself chairing a meeting attended by the MD, PSO and the secretaries of finance, petroleum, water and power along with their respective ministers — and the whole objective of the meeting is to arrange money for PSO to pay for its next shipment of furnace oil — he should understand that he is on the road to breaking his campaign promise to eliminate loadshedding in two years. We don’t need more ‘energy summits’ nor do we need any more ad hoc announcements of energy conservation measures that everybody knows are not going to be fulfilled. What we need is fundamental reform, and if the new government cannot start delivering on that immediately, they might as well start pack-ing their bags on the 101st day.

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Comments (6)

Razi
May 19, 2013 3:35 pm

Load Shedding can be halved in less a week only if WAPDA/PEPCO has the will. I have submitted proposals to PEPCO/Ministry and Supreme Court. But there is no MD PEPCO to listen. The post is occupied by a JS. He works 5 days as JS and 2 days as MD/PEPCO; with one days off. If there is no captain/pilot of an aeroplane; where would that aeroplane go!!. The Ministry is least interested in eliminating load shedding as the Minister, Secretary, AS, JS do not experience load shedding as the fools (tax payers) have provided them free electricity 24/7. He is a good friend of mine but is incompetent.

M. Asghar
May 19, 2013 8:44 am
Yes, the coming government has to show action on the ground in the first 100 days to deal with the crippling energy crisis in the country.
D.J
May 19, 2013 6:29 pm
ad hoc solutions are fate of our energy crisis... :(
ahmad
May 19, 2013 6:49 am
Electricity theft is the major reason of Pakistan energy crisis today. There are areas in Pakistan which are exempted from paying electricity bills. Why? Reasons are political. Bold and tough decisions are required. No more political exemptions. Parties forming Government must know we (public) exactly know the true reasons of this crisis. It is up to the coming Government to tell the truth and earn respect or hide the truth and lose her credibility right at the onset.
javaid bashir
May 19, 2013 1:31 pm
Excellent editorial, right on the money. What we need is a government delivering on its promises. The electricity crisis was not taaken seriously by the previous government, and thus they suffered worst kind of election defeat. The RPP corruption has brought them down. Now if the Nawaz government does not heed to the demand of the electorate and take this task seriously, they wull be doomed from the start. We must solve the energy crisis to save our industries and decrease unemployment of labor. we can not keep on hoping that somehow the other it will be solved. The system needs to be revamped. The put dated generators are need to be replaced by modern efficient fuel saving ones. We must increase our technical know how in the energy sector. we must formulate strong energy policy with the goal to eliminate the crisis and fight on a war footing. Ministries and the wapda can not combat with the issues, they are lazy bums. We can improve the circular debt position by making arrangements to pay off the debt. WE should prioritize our policy based on urgency of the issue and the fall out. JAVAID BASHIR
B Mirza
May 19, 2013 12:04 pm
As usual, everybody is strong on rhetoric, and weak on substance...including the Dawn editorial. Where are the articles which analyse this problem deeply, and come up with the options, pros and cons and recommended way forward? If the civil servants, products of the quota system, had a clue, then they would have solved it by now. We all know about the intellect of our politicians. So who is going to come up with practical answers? There are several dimensions to this problem, i.e., power generation capacity, transmission losses, power theft, nonpayment of bills by private and public sector, huge difference between the price of oil and price of retail electricity, existing circular debt of $5bn, depleting local gas reserves, use of CNG for transportation and fertiliser, and perhaps some more. Dawn should invite the experts in these fields to sit together and produce some recommendations for our government. Otherwise we will see a lot of empty promises, shallow actions and failures.
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