LAHORE: Our energy sector has more than 20 different organisations engaged in the generation and distribution of electricity and gas — most of them are government-owned. Also, most are managed by seemingly incompetent and, by and large, corrupt management, comprising government servants. Also, in most cases, the bulk of the employees of such entities are members or supporters of various political parties. In fact, it is widely believed that their employment has been bestowed upon them as part of the process of political patronage and that their post has not really been gained on merit.
Because of mismanagement and inefficiencies, most of the power-sector companies have relatively high line and transmission losses. The result is that the government ends up providing billions in subsidies and outright grants every month, just to keep their loss-making organisations from collapsing. To make matters worse, most of these entities are hampered in their cash flow by a massive amount in arrears, and the irony is that much of this is owed by federal and provincial governments and their attached departments!
However, all is not lost. There is a way out. The government must quickly — and transparently of course — privatise all thermal power plants and power distribution companies. This will help improve their efficiency. At the same time, the government must encourage the use of solar energy and it can do this by encouraging banks to provide loans for the installation of solar panels at residential and commercial establishments.
S T Hussain
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2011.