Energy crisis and statistical puzzle- The Frontier Post

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The Senate Standing Committee on Power met in Islamabad on Monday with Senator Saifullah Abro in the chair. During the meeting, CEO Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) informed the Committee that currently 5000 posts of assistant linemen (ALM) were lying vacant in PESCO. It was further informed to the committee that out of total 5000 vacant posts, the ministry, and Board of Directors (BoDs) allowed the company to make recruitment against 2605 posts. The Committee was informed that under the decision of the Federal Government a third party is being used for conduct of recruitment tests and interviews to ensure the so-called transparency in recruitment process. The Managing Director NTDC told the committee that the total circular debt till June 30, 2021 stood at Rs 2,280 billion. According to him, about Rs 538 billion were added to the circular debt during last year, which has been curtailed to Rs 130 billion during current year.

The lawmakers in various standing committees of the upper house of the parliament are working hard while performing an oversight role on functioning of national institutions through periodic hearings. The Senate Standing Committee on Power looks after the affairs of power generation and distribution companies of the Country. Currently, the energy shortage has shaped into a grave financial and energy crisis due to corruption, political involvement, and mismanagement of the authorities. There is a dire need of a comprehensive and detailed audit of the financial affairs of Power distribution companies and WAPDA. Our learned lawmakers must know that the Bureaucracy works very artfully and is expert of playing with statistics to push back the bulwark from its head. The Managing Director NTDC made a misleading claim of curbing circular debt at Rs. 130 billion during current year, whereas he must be asked that if NTDC circular debt stands at Rs. 130 billion during initial two months of current financial year which is likely to reach at Rs. 780 billion by the end of financial year. According to an estimate, the circular debt of the Pakistan power sector was increasing at the rate of 250 percent annually during recent years and stood at 5.2 percent of GDP by the end of FY-2020. Therefore, the NTDC authorities must inform the nation about the methodology adopted by them to curb the growing challenge of circular debt if their claim has some physical ground. However, till now, the burden of circular debt had been paid off by the government through taxpayers’ money and no significant contribution of the concerned departments has been witnessed by the public.

The whole nation including lawmakers know that our power distribution companies recover their losses by over billing to the customers, transferring debt/loss from one head to another head just to clear their end and the actual issue persistently became more critical. In fact, Pakistan’s Power distribution companies have not made efforts to control growing line losses, recovery of outstanding electricity bills, elimination of electricity theft and corruption from their departments. Therefore, lawmakers must assume a hawkish approach toward heads of Distribution Companies and must question their performance and verify the tall claims which usually do not have any foundation. Currently, only lawmakers can resolve the issue of energy sector circular debt through continuous and strict oversight and accountability of the people sitting in big chairs in the Ministry of Energy and power distribution companies.