Circular Debt at Rs277bn, Power Theft Main Contributor - Khwaja Asif
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Mohammad Asif expressed on Tuesday that power supply would be disconnected to areas with 90 per cent power theft because the problem was aggravating the circular debt, which now stood at Rs277 billion.
Speaking at a news conference, the minister said the issue of unpaid electricity bills had been resolved with three provinces but Sindh, despite being the biggest defaulter, was “not cooperating by design”. “Sindh is creating problems deliberately,” Khawaja Asif alleged.
He said K-Electric was blackmailing the government by taking refuge behind the masses on a purely legal matter.
“Electricity should be completely disconnected in areas having 90pc theft,” he said, adding that unpaid electricity bills and theft led to procurement of loans to run plants and build up the circular debt. Currently, about Rs66bn was outstanding against Sindh, Rs2bn against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Rs5bn against Punjab and about Rs3.5bn against Balochistan, he said.
The minister said the process of reconciliation of bills with Punjab, KP and Balochistan had been completed. He said the reconciliation with Sindh had been finalised over Rs20bn outstanding bills, resulting in confirmation of 65pc billing in favour of the power sector, but the provincial government, despite accepting Rs13-14bn liability, was not ready even to pay the reconciled amount.
Khawaja Asif said a team of the federal government had visited Karachi, but the Sindh finance minister said the province would not pay the bills because of the centre’s ban on solar and wind power plants.
He said the government would wait for a fresh tariff because the previously approved tariff was considered to be on the higher side in view of a recent plunge in the prices of solar and wind technologies globally.
In reply to a question, the minister said the markets throughout the world were opened in the morning and closed before night, but despite shortage of resources, Pakistani nation had developed extravagant lifestyles which should be reversed.
In reply to another question, he said the project implementation in Karachi was an uphill task because of political reasons. Fresh investment could not be expected in the city despite its potential to attract domestic and international investment without improving the political atmosphere there, he added.
Khawaja Asif said the PML-N government had put in place plans to set up power projects with an aggregate capacity of 40,000MW in five to ten years. “Only 12pc of this capacity will be added in Punjab and remaining in other provinces”.
He said 10,250MW projects would be set up in Sindh, 9,410MW in KP, 2,720MW in Balochistan, 5,000MW in Punjab, 11,917MW in Gilgit-Baltistan and 4,000MW in Azad Kashmir.
He said as far as energy projects to be set up under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor were concerned 25pc would be in Punjab despite its 60pc population.
He said most of the hydel projects were being implemented in KP because of availability of water in that province, while coal-based projects were being executed in Karachi, Gwadar, Port Qasim and Sahiwal.
He said the loadshedding had decreased this year as compared to last year because the government added 2,000MW to the system.
Earlier, talking to newsmen along with KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and Jamaat-i-Islami Emir Sirajul Haq in Islamabad on Tuesday, the power minister said the federal government would resolve electricity, water and other issues in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on a priority basis.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has convened a meeting on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor on Wednesday.
Mr Khattak said talks with the federal government on issues confronting his province had been successful.
Khawaja Asif said the circular debt had been reduced from Rs320bn to Rs277bn for the first time in the country’s history.
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