It has not happened overnight but is an alarming development nonetheless, that the circular debt among energy companies has soared 465% in four years since the Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition government came to power in March 2008.
“The power sector circular debt increased to Rs396.7 billion by March 15, 2012, which is Rs326 billion or 465.7% higher than the debt in March 2008,” Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Asim Hussain told the National Assembly on Thursday.
In a written reply to a question, the petroleum minister attributed the runaway debt to delay in payments by power companies for oil and gas.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Nisar Tanveer had asked for the exact amount of circular debt in the energy sector.
LNG to arrive in late 2013
Speaking during question hour, Hussain also said Pakistan planned to import 500 million cubic feet of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar, which was expected to begin in one and a half years.
An agreement to this effect has been signed with Qatar, but the price of LNG is yet to be decided between the two countries. However, Hussain said, the price would be in accordance with prevailing rates in the region.
PIA to buy more airplanes
Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar told the house that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) would buy more aircraft in order to avoid flight delays and to better facilitate passengers.
He said that rules would be followed in the purchase of aircraft. “In the first phase, we will get airplanes on lease from Boeing while in the second phase aircraft will be purchased from Airbus,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2012.