Though the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government claimed to have brought about improvement in power production, it still passed on a gigantic circular debt of Rs1.148 trillion to the new government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which faces a bumpy road ahead.
The PML-N had come up with a slogan in 2013 that it would bring load-shedding to an end during its five-year tenure. It solely focused on setting up thermal power plants to increase electricity production, but failed to streamline and upgrade the transmission and distribution network, which could not bear the load of additional power generation.
Of late, the circular debt has become a mammoth challenge for all governments, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which ran the government from 2008-13. The situation is no different for the new government which will have to deal with a debt burden of over Rs1 trillion.
In a meeting of the Senate special committee on circular debt on Friday, officials of the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) revealed that out of the total circular debt, Power Holding Private Limited (PHPL) had borrowed Rs582.86 billion whereas Rs566 billion was borrowed to cover receivables of power distribution companies.
The meeting, chaired by Senator Shibli Faraz, was informed that PHPL was to pay Rs153 billion in annual interest on the loans.
The Power Division had also requested the power-sector regulator to include the amount in consumer tariff, but the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) dismissed the plea. Nepra argued that the loans were not part of the development budget and were acquired for smoothly running the distribution companies.