As power shortfall hit 8,000 megawatts on Thursday, protests fanned across Punjab, prompting the president to convene an emergency meeting on the energy crisis late Thursday night.
The meeting decided that Term Finance Certificates (TFCs) worth Rs82 billion will be floated to address the lingering issue of circular debt in order to deal with unabated power outages across the country.
The TFCs will be floated after the approval of the Economic Coordination Committee, which is scheduled to meet next Tuesday.
Earlier, concerned authorities were considering floating TFCs worth Rs70 billion from the reserves of the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited.
Authorities hope they will be able to settle the circular debt under the proposed TFCs floating formula.
They claim that the new proposal will generate Rs450 to 500 billion to clear the circular debt.
The power shortfall is likely to increase in the coming days when temperatures, along with the demand of electricity, will further jump in the peak summer months.
As a temporary measure, the government has released Rs7 billion of which Rs4 billion will go to the state-owned PSO, a major provider of furnace oil to Independent Power Producers.
According to an official handout, Water & Power Minister Syed Naveed Qamar briefed the meeting about Thursday’s incident that resulted in massive power failure in different parts of the country.
Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain also briefed the meeting on the supply of furnace oil and gas to power plants.
He said that the supply of oil and gas has been ensured, which would stabilise power generation by Friday morning.
During the meeting, President Zardari emphasised that there was a great need for coordination at all levels and directed all federal government functionaries dealing with oil, gas and power to remain in Islamabad for the next week and meet regularly for monitoring the situation as well as to take immediate corrective measures to rectify it.
Earlier, while talking to reporters, Qamar claimed that unannounced load-shedding will end in 24 hours. Qamar said that the abrupt shortfall in power generation was due to a technical fault in some power plants and added that measures were being taken on an emergency basis.
“Protests and damaging property is not a solution of this issue,” he said.
Criticising the Punjab government, Qamar asserted that three provinces have started implementing the decision of the energy conference but the fourth, which had demanded to call the moot, was not doing so.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2012.