Public to continue facing aggravated load shedding

The power crisis is likely to worsen in days to come owing to mounting circular debt, which is likely to cause more power plants to shut down, naturally worsening load shedding all across the country, reported media sources on Thursday.
The finance ministry on Wednesday refused to release Rs 20 billion, approved by the prime minister, saying that the ministry had not received any written directive in this regard.
According to a national newspaper, the Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) had to pay Rs 480 billion to power suppliers.
“Thermal power plants are operating at 40% to 50% capacity, which may further drop due to non-payment of dues,” an official of the water and power ministry said.
He said six power plants including Orient, Halmore, Saif, Saphire, Uch and Hub Power Company (HUBCO) Narowal were shut down due to the circular debt issue.
“PEPCO has to pay Rs 300 billion to independent power plants (IPPs), growing from Rs 200 billion,” IPP Advisory Council Chairman Abdullah Yousuf said. He said the power crisis will further worsen in the coming days due to circular debt which was getting out of hand.
Meanwhile, the Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power was informed on Wednesday that there would be no relief in power outages in the upcoming season and people will be facing load-shedding of at least eight hours per day.
Briefing the parliamentary body, presided by Senator Zahid Khan, Water and Power Additional Secretary Arshad Mirza said financial constraints did not allow running of refined furnace oil (RFO) fired power plants at their full capacity.
He said power subsidy will touch Rs 291 billion by the end of June against an allocation of Rs 185 billion for the ongoing financial year. He said a special bailout package of Rs 20 billion was approved by caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, but the government cannot afford financial bleeding for an unlimited time.
He argued that Pakistan was going against international practices with respect to its energy mix because no mega hydel project had been started following the Ghazi-Barotha Hydropower Project.
“We have to get our priorities in line and concentrate on coal as developing countries around the globe are giving preference to coal fired power plants. Asian Development Bank (ADB) has already offered financing for two blended coal thermal power plants,” he added.
He apprised the committee that at present about 9,200 megawatts (MW) was being produced, while the shortfall was around 3,400 MW. However due to line losses and some other technical faults, the production was further reduced by 1,800 MW.
He further said that ongoing load-shedding will be controlled following the release of Rs 20 billion, as private companies did not provide electricity without money.
Senator Shahi Syed said the main reason for the current power crisis is non-recovery of outstanding dues.
Senator Khan said electricity price is already very high and the tariff should not be increased further.
Senator Gul Muhammad Loth suggested that electricity should be provided to industry on the basis of full cost recovery. He said a short-term plan may be submitted to the committee in its next meeting. He further said the ministry of water and power should take all appropriate steps to recover outstanding amounts without any fear in the presence of a caretaker setup. “Brief us on your priorities in the next meeting, we should do what we can to provide relief to the people,” he said.



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