ISLAMABAD: Former finance minister Miftah Ismail, while criticising the decision to increase power tariff by Rs1.95 and putting a burden of Rs200 billion on consumers, has said the federal government has completely failed to control the circular debt that has reached Rs2.4 trillion, the highest in the country’s history.
In a video message on Sunday, Miftah, a senior leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said, “We had left the circular debt at Rs1,036 billion, which included power losses and bank’s loan both, and now it has crossed the mark of Rs2,400 billion.”
“[Prime Minister] Imran Khan increased the power prices as soon as he assumed power in order to stop the circular debt from rising,” he noted, adding, “the premier had claimed bringing the circular debt to zero.”
“Circular debt is rising by Rs50 billion to Rs60 billion every month, with an annual hike of more than Rs600 billion,” he said, adding that the major reason behind the rise in the debt is the losses in the power supply and distribution.
“Likewise, bill recoveries stand at 88 percent as compared to the average 93pc during the PML-N government,” he further added.
According to the ex-finance minister, the PTI-led government produced expensive electricity through expensive power plants and used diesel and furnace oil instead of LNG, the import of which was delayed. “Importing furnace oil only benefits a few people and lobbies, but it causes harm to the masses,” he said.
On the one hand, he said, the government is establishing new power plants while, on the other, it says it has the capacity to generate additional electricity.
“If it has the capacity for additional power, why is it setting up new power plants? Also, why are they not granting the requests for new connections totalling 3,000 megawatts if they have surplus power?” the former minister questioned.
Saying that the production of electricity is low because of the deteriorated economy, Miftah said that the government’s decision to discontinue gas to power-producing industries is strange.
“It will put textile and other industries in trouble. It is wrong to make the people and industries pay the price of delayed and expensive import of gas. For the past two-and-a-half years, the government has done nothing but blame PML-N,” Miftah said.
The former finance minister demanded the government to withdraw its increase in electricity tariff, bring reforms, overcome power supply losses, and improve bill recoveries.
“It must implement NEPRA’s merit order and refrain from cutting the supply of gas to industries,” he concluded.