- Number one priority please
That the circular debt has been allowed to balloon 454pc (from Rs105b to Rs582b) in 10 years, despite the mysterious Rs480b injection by the PML-N government in 2013, is not just alarming but criminal, especially since these losses will, as always, be made up for by further squeezing the common bill-paying public. Even if the prime minister is able to get is ambitious dam funding program off the ground, which raises important questions of its own, the power sector will still not be able to perform unless it is rid of this paralysis of the circular debt.
Since power generation is central to households, businesses and government alike, and the economy will not be able to function till the crisis is overcome, the prime minister must push the circular debt to the top of his priority list. He must not only call an urgent, transparent inquiry into just how things got this bad, but also decide about how to hold those responsible for this accountable in a fitting manner. But from early reports it seems Imran Khan’s finance minister is trying to do just what Nawaz Sharif’s finance minister did – transfer the burden immediately onto the end consumer, which is no less alarming.
Also, while the PM is at it, he should also seriously look into the strange PML-N one-time payment in mid-2013. Was that money milked from tax earnings, as always, or was it freshly printed as some of Nawaz Sharif’s advisors used to suggest just before the payment? Was it legal? Why wasn’t it audited? And why did the debt grow even larger so quickly? But, most importantly, his team should devise ways of keeping the impact of such official negligence and criminal behaviour from the honest, already suffering, public. Again, no initiative will bear fruit till the power sector functions efficiently.