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Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Mohammad Asif addressing PML-N workers.—Online Photo
Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Mohammad Asif addressing PML-N workers.—Online Photo

ISLAMABAD: The PML-N and the PPP traded barbs over loadshedding and the circular debt affair on Saturday after the latter called upon the government to explain why there had been no let-up in power cuts even after the payment of a staggering Rs300 billion to producers.

Syed Naveed Qamar, a PPP MNA, ridiculed the government’s earlier claim that the power situation would improve within days of the payment, saying that it had further deteriorated despite passage of several weeks and pumping in borrowed money into power sector.

The government instantly came out with a response, saying that only 8,000MW of electricity was being generated on a daily basis when the PPP government completed its term while at present 1,4200MW was being produced.

Talking to Dawn, Information Minister Pervez Rasheed attributed the difference in power generation to the clearance of the circular debt that had risen to over Rs500bn during the PPP government. He blamed the previous government for the alarming level of the debt. “We are simply trying to address the issue we have inherited from the previous government.”

The Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, came up with the precise figures and said the “amount has not disappeared”. So far Rs326bn has been paid to power producers and the rest of the debt will be cleared soon, he said.

He said 14,650 megawatts were produced on Friday — a level reached after one year. On Saturday, he said, the production level had touched 15,170MW, though for a brief period, which was a record as compared to generation level in recent past.

This happened only because of better management and clearance of circular debt, the minister claimed.

He advised Mr Qamar to raise the issue at a formal channel. “He is a member of the National Assembly. We will be obliged to give response in the house.”

Mr Asif said outages caused by technical problems and inefficient transmission system should not be regarded loadshedding.

He said it was a government priority to provide electricity to the areas where bills were being paid. Referring to some demonstrations, he said they were being held in the areas where bills were not paid.

Mr Qamar said the deteriorating power situation should serve to open eyes of the rulers to the reality that the crisis could not be ended by robbing people to pay to big business. “It calls for rooting out the causes of circular debt”.

Frustrated by increasing loadshedding, he said, the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) had issued a fact sheet that showed that the power crisis had worsened. According to the fact sheet, textile industry in Punjab is on the verge of destruction because coupled with daily loadshedding of 10 hours, it is denied gas for five days a week. On the other hand, the industry faced only four hours of loadshedding and was supplied gas for five days a week in July last year, the fact sheet said.

Mr Qamar said the basic issue was the huge difference between the production cost and the price at which electricity was sold. If electricity continues to be produced at the rate of over Rs14 per unit and sold at about Rs9 per unit, the problem will persist.

He said even if the circular debt was cleared now, it would emerge again unless the basic structural issues were addressed.

As the power policy was now being manipulated by power producers, he said, it was unlikely that the vested interests would permit addressing the fundamental issues in power sector.

The PPP leader said in the past Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif held open kutcheries at Minar-i-Pakistan and led demonstrations against loadshedding, and asked why he was not resorting to such gimmicks now.

He urged the government to explain why the revised PC-1 of the Nandipur power project had raised its cost from $329 million to over $574m.

He said Chinese contractor Dongfong Electric Corporation had demanded $40m in cost escalation. This, with the increase in the cost due to extended insurance period, would raise the cost of the project to nearly $400m at the most but it had been “mysteriously” increased to $574m, he said.

He demanded an inquiry into what he said “the worst example of white collar crime to rob the public”.

The information minister held the PPP responsible for the cost escalation and said since the project had been delayed for four years, the difference in rupee dollar parity had increased the cost. He said machinery imported for the project had been lying at the port for four years and added that part of it had been damaged and some components had disappeared.

Comments (12) Closed

Mickey Jul 14, 2013 10:01am

"This, with the increase in the cost due to extended insurance period, would raise the cost of the project to nearly $400m at the most but it had been

Iqbal Malik Jul 14, 2013 11:16am

Please don't take these news seriously. The current government is the continuation of the previous government. They are doing these dramas to fool us. Behind the curtain they are same.

NK Ali Jul 14, 2013 12:38pm

This is the merry-go-round that is Pakistan. PPP did not even bother to repair a damaged road leave alone rescuing the country from power disasters. Let us see what happens now that a large chunk of the circular debt has been liquidated. If the power supply does not improve in a few months' time, then all love's labor will be lost and the cash spent will be in the pockets of the rich. The PMLN must realize that this a golden opportunity to REALLY work hard and make a name for themselves by rescuing Pakistan; rather than corrupt and steal like the erstwhile PPP government. Salams (PS: Consumers, who do not pay their bills, don't get electricity).

rashid ahmed Jul 14, 2013 01:15pm

There is more to it then circular debt. The cost of power generation by IPPs is exorbitant and it needs to be renegotiated. Alternate cheap source of electricity should be explored with low maintanence.

Gohar Jul 14, 2013 01:23pm

What did the illustrious PPP government do, Mr. Qamar? You guys were/are so incompetent, you shouldn't be allowed to run a house of ill repute let alone a country. Men are now in-charge, let them work.

umar Jul 14, 2013 04:17pm

Was he (PMLN) not part and parcel/guaratee of previous government?

Ahmed Jul 14, 2013 04:43pm

@umar: The answer to your question is No. Unless you live on some other planet.

Shafiq Jul 14, 2013 04:52pm

I am glad to see the exchanges . I hope the level of debate in the assemblies get to a higher standard if the proceedings in the houses of the parliament are televised. The voters will see for themselves the calibre of the elected.

ailly Jul 14, 2013 08:42pm

@Gohar: go back to stone age alongwith your MEN at work and dont come back please. the MEN have twice been rejected in past and this time they will thrown out forever in oblivion.

ailly Jul 14, 2013 08:47pm

so these jokers will keep on playing with a new English word ' circular debt ' and keep on circling the nation in this loop until their time will prematurely be interrupted either by corruption or another military coup and we will live the way we are living.

toothless tiger is roaring without sting and sitting in the den at his raiwind house huffing and puffing like never before.

punjabis have given them the mandate and with that punjab has again let down the entire country as in the past they have done so many a times. who voted for them ? now must come out on streets and remove these clowns from throne.

A pakistani Jul 16, 2013 10:18pm

We are basically Tamashbeen people. Give the current government free hand for one year to show their performance. Then any ones criticism of wrong policies of the government will be justified.

Usman bhatti Jul 17, 2013 03:09am

Keep it up guys think 4 the nations