How does it reflect on a presiding administration that it promises a ‘roadmap’ to tackle one of the economy’s most pressing issues, but only by the time of the general election marking its term’s end? Despite obvious implications, for the sake of both households and industry, it is at least hoped that this will not be one of those promises that guarantee uninterrupted power every now and then, only to be blatantly dishonoured. And considering how power shortages have consistently intensified throughout the PPP administration’s tenure, what is it about this particular promise, coming just when electioneering is picking pace?
Either it’s the cursed, seemingly insurmountable problem of circular debt, or an either/or between domestic consumers and value-addition, export revenue earning industry. Or it’s the perpetual squabbling between the petroleum and finance ministries, the former pushing for fuel price reduction to parity with CNG, the latter unrelenting. For some reason, Dr Sheikh’s boys just don’t buy into the argument that with CNG and petrol similarly priced, people will have obvious incentive to shift to black gold, easing natural gas strain enough to divert to industry. That they push for CNG prices to be jacked up to fuel oil levels, for similar results, says a lot about the model of economics pursued at the finance ministry.
Strangely, it seems to have passed all relevant ministries that forward planning of all important commodities is based on the simple, text book procedure of calculating demand and supply. The democratically elected government, reflecting the will of the people, was well aware of demand trends and supply bottlenecks when it took office. That precious little has been done to ease the strain on limited supply, with promises only now of some ‘roadmap’, that too when the government prepares to bow out, is just plain unsatisfactory.