The monumental cock-up that is the governmental handling of the crisis in the power sector added another trophy to the shelf. The committee that presides over energy resource rationalisation for the power sector was called by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on July 18. With outstanding receivables now standing at Rs520 billion, Mr Dar could reasonably have been expected to crack a few heads together. True to form, he did no such thing. Instead, he passed the responsibility for coming up with a mechanism to recover the missing receivables back to the water and power ministry.
Since the water and power ministry is the bureaucratic equivalent of a quadriplegic, which is also in a persistent vegetative state, the likelihood of a result coming from that direction is vanishingly small. Of particular note is that the finance minister showed up to the meeting with no plan other than to pass the buck at a time when decisive leadership is the need of the hour.
All the fine talk of immediate disconnections for those not paying their bills has disappeared into thin air and the defaulters are as connected as they ever were — and there is nobody to blame but those responsible for collecting the dues, who continue to look vacantly at a far horizon. Circular debt has reappeared, having been supposedly ‘retired’ and there is no plan that we are aware of as to how it will be ‘retired’ a second time around.
Thus, there is a finance minister who appears clueless and hopes others will have clues on his behalf, all the entities of the power sector that display an incompetence of cosmic proportions are wandering in limbo and everything is held together by a bureaucratic structure at ministry level that would have difficulty running a chai khana, never mind a vital arm of the economy.
The power crisis is a genuine existential threat to the integrity of the state, yet the government’s response in the last year has been little more than organising a vast game of pass the parcel. We believe this is not the best way to run a country.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.
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