Power sector dues: Govt defaults on sovereign guarantees

Published: May 9, 2012

DEFAULTER: Rs45 billion is the amount the govt had to pay to IPPs immediately, and has been unable to, while Rs232 billion is the amount of its total outstanding dues to IPPs.

ISLAMABAD: 

Failure to honour its financial commitments to Independent Power Producers (IPP) has led to the first-ever sovereign default by the government in Pakistan’s history.

The default on sovereign guarantees – assurances the government provides to foreign investors – may not only unnerve the financial markets, but also downgrade the government’s creditworthiness, making it more expensive to borrow money.

“Today, the government of Pakistan has committed a sovereign default for the first time in the history of the country”, announced the IPPs Advisory Committee here on Tuesday.

“The government has defaulted on payments of roughly Rs45 billion to nine IPPs that generate 1,700 megawatts of electricity”, said Abdullah Yusuf, Chairman IPP Advisory Committee while talking to The Express Tribune.  These nine IPPs started operations in 2004 and their total receivables amount to almost Rs232 billion.

Taking legal course

The IPPs gave a 30-day payment notice to the power purchaser, the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA), followed by a 10-day notice to the government. Neither the CPPA nor the government cleared the overdue amounts, said the advisory committee.

The IPPs have exhausted all avenues available and the notice served to the government expired on Tuesday, the committee said.

After the default, the IPPs have issued a legal notice to the government for recovery by Thursday, May 10th, 2012 failing which the IPPs will follow a legal course.

Yusuf said the IPPs will go to the Pakistani courts.

“The default is a very serious matter and carries negative implications for the country”, Yusuf added.

Officials from the Finance Ministry refused to comment and the Federal Minister for Water and Power was not available for comments, despite repeated attempts.

Chronic debt

Despite clearing payment backlog in two attempts, the government has been unable to resolve the circular debt in the energy sector in the last four years. While the government is reluctant to disclose the exact size of the circular debt, some estimates suggest it is above Rs400 billion.

The sovereign default could result into further downgrading of Pakistan’s credit rating. Meanwhile, local banks have an exposure of Rs120 billion to the power sector and the default may also affect their balance sheets.

The IPP advisory committee said that some other power producers, currently operating under the 1994 policy, may also invoke sovereign guarantees.

Previous almost-default

The government had come to the brink of a sovereign default earlier in September 2011, when nine IPPs invoked government guarantees after the amounts due to them had reached phenomenal proportions.

The IPPs had already utilised all of their working capital limits and plant closures looked imminent, the advisory committee said.

The government, however, asked the IPPs to withdraw their call on guarantees and in turn offered an interim arrangement.

Under the “Settlement Agreement,” the government proposed that as long as the CPPA did not clear the overdue amount, it would not impose penalties on IPPS for less-than-agreed upon production.

The government had also agreed to clear all dues by October 15, 2011.

The IPPs accepted this arrangement and withdrew their notices but the government defaulted even on this settlement agreement and did not clear the dues, the advisory committee said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • May 9, 2012 - 6:19AM

    It was always on the cards as solving the power crisis isn’t in the government priority list

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  • Sunil
    May 9, 2012 - 6:42AM

    Congrats – a first is a first….Recommend

  • Polpot
    May 9, 2012 - 6:55AM

    Here is a Govt led by a convicted PM now defaulting on its Financial Commitments ! !

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  • Shyam
    May 9, 2012 - 7:03AM

    All weather friend China will bail Pakistan out

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  • May 9, 2012 - 7:30AM

    Long live SHAMocracy.
    Convicted PM leading a defaulting Govt; how convenient. :(

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  • ahmad
    May 9, 2012 - 8:34AM

    No problem take it out of FAT defence budget.

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  • Zaleem Singh
    May 9, 2012 - 9:03AM

    Pakistan Government is innocent

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  • Tabish Bilgrami
    May 9, 2012 - 9:04AM

    Amaazingggg!!! Another achievement of a truly democratic government…. Long live democracy… Yaaaaeiiiiiyyyyyyyy :)Recommend

  • academic
    May 9, 2012 - 9:16AM

    I am not sure if anyone really understand the gravity of this situation. This is a huge deal, default for the country will have long and very severe consequences.
    As a knowledgeable person about economic history, I do not think I can think of a more inept government in the world than the current one in Pakistan.

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  • Omer
    May 9, 2012 - 9:50AM

    For the people, By the people.

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  • ahmer
    May 9, 2012 - 9:55AM

    This should be a reality check for the war mongers, and ultra nationalists. Reality is we are in a very weak economic position, where the government simply has no money to handle such a crisis. The height of stupidity is when these war mongers tell the USA to bring it on for sanctions etc. But what do you expect from illiterate maulvis and boot polishers. Stop blaming the government. It is the mullah military alliance that has bought Pakistan to the last position in south asia. Very soon, we will see pakistanis going to Bangladesh for jobs.

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  • May 9, 2012 - 10:16AM

    Government is not paying electricity bills at all. Influenced people use power on kundas, tax recovered through electric bills is wasted in luxuries. Pity the Nation. Recommend

  • t.g
    May 9, 2012 - 10:30AM

    PPP has failed in terms of economic performance. And these times, you’re kind of screwed with a failed economy…PPP just hammered the final nail!

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  • Hamid
    May 9, 2012 - 10:34AM

    I don’t understand why Zardarie & Co are bent on punishing people of Pakistan. They are all geared up to rob us more by creating more provinces to feed themselves.

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  • Sam
    May 9, 2012 - 10:36AM

    Its a sad day for Pakistan and for the ruling party. What examples are they setting for us? If they keep on destroying Pakistan, there would be nothing left for us to return to and save.

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  • lastlines
    May 9, 2012 - 10:40AM

    A corrupt government, incompetence and nepotism ..who needs war when you can destroy a country from the inside out..

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  • Danish
    May 9, 2012 - 10:43AM

    what sovereignty?

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  • AntiKingClass
    May 9, 2012 - 11:45AM

    “Democracy is the best revenge” now seems to be an idiotic phrase !!

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  • May 9, 2012 - 1:59PM

    It’s not a sovereign default. The government just doesn’t care. IF it did care it would pay up immediately. To make the government care you have to get the attention of foreigners. If they start creating problems for Pakistan I am sure the SBP will produce the necessary amount and it won’t be a default.

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  • Hamid
    May 9, 2012 - 2:17PM

    No phrase is not idiotic it’s just incomplete. Complete one is as follows “Democracy is the best revenge from people for people”. Oops sound much better now.@AntiKingClass:

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  • am
    May 9, 2012 - 3:38PM

    what about mqm,q,anp,juif i even include pmln they are realy to blame for supporting this government but these parties are criminals as well wake up pakiant we need change with ik

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  • Saleem
    May 9, 2012 - 4:17PM

    What else do you expect when Ali Baba’s and forty thousand thieves run a country

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  • JB
    May 9, 2012 - 4:33PM

    Bleeding the people dry!

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  • Rizwan
    May 9, 2012 - 4:34PM

    Credit goes to Mr Gilani the default on power producers has been done through consensus among all political parties .Well done Democracy and Mr Gilani

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  • abs
    May 9, 2012 - 8:13PM

    Ofcourse Govt needs money for PM UK luxury trip with huge delegation. That is ofcourse more important.

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  • Sher Khan
    May 9, 2012 - 8:40PM

    This is the result when the Governments do business. The role of a government is the devise policy, implement it through a strong regulatory regime and facilitate the private sector in driving growth. The state of Pakistan Railways, PIA, PEPCO / WAPDA, PSM etc. would have been a lot different if they were being run by professional management.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    May 10, 2012 - 2:45PM

    I think we have a death-wish. This is not only bad but it is astonishingly dumb.

    And how interesting that there is no comment from the concerned quarters?

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  • Paki optimist
    May 11, 2012 - 5:31AM

    This has serious consequences for the overall economy. We have witnessed the Dubai crisis and more recently the euro sovereign crisis and its repercussions on the banking system and the economy as a whole, this is no different since it involves the question of whether a sovereign is able to service its debt – and usually sovereign debt carries the notion that it is backed by the government thus the chance of it defaulting on its obligations are next to none – but obviously we have seen sovereign defaulting and more importantly we have also seen the austerity measures these countries have undertaken to correct its imbalances. Cost of borrowing will increase not only for the sovereign but also the corporates in due time. The Government of Pakistan is at a serious financial crossroad, only option for us is to ‘cure’ this default – otherwise the Government is inviting a financial crisis in the making. An alarming development, indeed.

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