A parliamentary panel has asked the Ministry of Water and Power to undertake third party audit of payment of billions of rupees to independent power producers (IPPs) for clearing the circular debt and determine reasons behind increasing electricity outages.
A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power, headed by Senator Zahid Khan, was held here on Monday to look into ‘questionable’ payment of billions of rupees to the IPPs to pay off debt and the reasons behind the decrease in electricity production.
“The government has paid Rs480 billion to the IPPs,” Ministry of Water and Power Additional Secretary Sohail Akber said, but despite that the debt had emerged again standing currently at Rs194 billion.
“Balochistan needs to pay Rs81 billion to Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) and the recovery rate in Fata is just 4%,” he said.
He told the panel members that the government had already issued directives for a third-party audit of payments to the IPPs and disclosed that even after clearing dues of Rs480 billion, electricity production by the IPPs had dropped to 5,200 megawatts from 5,500MW.
The secretary said the country was getting electricity from the IPPs under an agreement.
Reacting to the disclosure, the committee members asked how the IPPs’ production could go down as circular debt had already been cleared.
Officials of National Power Construction Company (NPCC) pointed out that two wind power plants were not producing anything at present. They had produced 50MW and 56MW respectively in June and July last year.
The committee members termed unsatisfactory the briefing given by officials of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) on its distribution losses, theft and recovery of bills.
Company officials said they could not recover electricity bills in Fata where the law and order situation was dismal.
Pepco representatives suggested that the company needed to be paid Rs30 billion in subsidy, which was being extended to tube wells and the AJK government.
The AJK government is paying only Rs2.79 per unit of electricity whereas consumers in other parts of the country pay Rs16 per unit.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2014.
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