Khurram Dastgir Khan
Khurram Dastgir Khan

LAHORE: Federal Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan has said circular debt has more than doubled during the past four years to reach Rs2.460 trillion due to bad governance and incompetence of the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government and termed it “the biggest challenge” for the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government to control it before the next general election.

“In May 2018, when we (the PML-N) left, the circular debt was Rs1.060 trillion that jumped to Rs2.460 trillion as on April 26, the day when I was sworn in as minister. The debt increased just because of bad governance and incompetence on the part of Imran Khan-led government,” Minister Dastgir deplored while responding to questions at a press conference here at the Lahore Electric Supply Company headquarters after he held a meeting with officers to deal with the energy crisis.

“Now the biggest challenge is for us to control the increasing debt,” he reiterated. In order to bring down the circular debt, he said, he had directed the power distribution companies (Discos) to ensure timely and full payments to the Central Power Purchase Agency (CPPA) against the purchase of electricity units by making 100 per cent recovery from all customers/ consumers.

“I have asked the Discos to consider three priorities as very important: The first is to resolve consumer complaints swiftly, followed by making 100pc recovery from consumers and clearance of CPPA’s bills / invoices and ensuring safety of electricity workers,” he maintained.

Terms Imran’s claim about purchase of oil, gas from Russia ‘fake’

The minister said the PTI government “devastated the power sector” by setting worst precedent of governance. The previous government did not purchase oil and gas despite shortage of energy resulting in the closure of the plants having 5,820MW cumulative capacity. When the federal ministers sworn in on April 26, the country braved prolonged outages spanning up to 10 hours a day, as several power plants with the accumulative capacity of 7,104MW were not in operation for lack of maintenance or due to shortage of RLNG, furnace oil, coal, he added.

“However, we in just four days (till April 30) managed to arrange some RLNG, furnace oil and coal to make some of the closed plants operational and succeeded in injecting 2,520MW into the national grid. Rest of the plants are also being made operational with the gradual receipt of gas, oil, coal,” he explained.

Terms fuel purchase claim ‘fake’

In reply to another question, Mr Dasgir said the situation would start improving soon, as the government was in process to go to the IMF programme and improve relations with the country’s all friendly countries that were ruined by Imran Khan and his government.

“I also tell you clearly that the Imran Khan’s claim of buying oil and gas from Russia is absolutely false and baseless, as there is no paper / evidence available with the quarters concerned. Whatever they are claiming in this regard is just a lie,” he said.

The minister also claimed to have ended power loadshedding in all the areas falling within the service jurisdiction of those feeders not categorised as high-loss recovery areas. Even in the areas being supplied power from the feeders falling under 30pc loss-in-recovery category, there was no power loadshedding at present, he added.

However, he couldn’t satisfy the media when asked about power shortfall and continuation of loadshedding in different parts of the country.

“Look, the shortfall prevailing at the moment is for some time, as it would be no more soon. But, due to this, we are doing load management in the areas being fed by the high-loss category feeders,” he reasoned.

Responding to a question, the minister said the performance review of the Board of Directors of all Discos, National Transmission and Despatch Company, Gencos and other power ministry’s subsidiaries had been started. After a few weeks, according to him, the government would take a policy decision in this regard (whether to retain the existing BoDs or not).

Earlier, the minister visited the NTDC headquarter at Wapda House where he was apprised about the power evacuation and transmission system that made a record power evacuation and transmission of 24,566MW in 2021.

While briefing the minister, NTDC MD Manzoor Ahmad claimed, “The NTDC recently completed 23 projects of transmission lines and grid stations, including 500kV Faisalabad West grid station and 220kV Jhimpir-II grid station.”

Besides, he said, 51 projects of worth around US$2,081.868 million, funded by different donor agencies and through NTDC own resources, were at different stages of development.”

About this year’s system constraints removal plan, Mr Ahmad said nine of the total 15 projects had been completed and the remaining five would be completed by month end.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2022

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