SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2011

Pakistan's Electricity Sector in Financial Crisis
In spite of the injection of government's subsidies of $7.4 billion since 2008, the power crisis in Pakistan continues to worsen, according to credible reports attributed to Pakistan's Ministry of Finance.

The poster child of the waste, fraud and abuse is the Turkish Karkey rental power ship deal which sinks Rs. 780 million or nearly $9 million per month of public funds for providing very little power because of lack of sufficient fuel supply, according toThe News.

There were credible reports in 2009 that the ruling PPP politicians, particularly President Zardari and his inner circle, ignored former Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin's key recommendations to address the acute power shortages in the country. Zardari's insistence on pushing rental power projects, rather than fix the huge circular debt problem in the energy sector first, specially frustrated the nation's former finance chief, and he eventually quit last year.

What is becoming increasingly clear is that the government's corruption and incompetence in the power sector, not just insufficient installed generating capacity blamed on Musharraf, are at the heart of the deteriorating energy situation in Pakistan.

Nine Independent Power Producers (IPPs), with a combined power generation capacity of 1,800MW,

31 billion.have now notified the government and central power purchasing agency (CPPA) that they are invoking sovereign guarantees for the recovery of their dues amounting to Rs.500 megawatts (MW) to 4. there is a total lack of will to tackle the widespread problem of power theft and the mounting unpaid electricity bills which account for as much as 40% of the industry revenue. The paper also reported that the PEPCO (Pakistan Electric Power Co) would be dissolved by October 30. and the current financial mess is scaring away potential investors. according to a report in Daily Times. With circular debt touching Rs. He said that role of the ministries in power sector would be minimized and private sector would have complete administrative and financial authority under the reform process to improve the system. The much-heralded reforms of the power sector designed to attract more private investment are stalled. Rather than deal with these underlying issues. In addition to the long delayed structural reforms in the power sector.800 MW in near future to bridge the demand and supply gap. The Cabinet Committee on Restructuring (CCoR) on power sector Thursday approved the creation of a holding company to be led by an independent board of directors to finalize the restructuring of four power generation companies (GENCOs). This deprives the crucial sector of the cash it needs to operate as a sustainable and responsive business capable of satisfying its customers' requirements of reliable electricity service. or nearly 40% of the sector's annual revenue as estimated by ADB. new investors are hesitant to risk their capital. . the government is choosing to apply the temporary band-aid of uncertain periodic subsidies and repeated rate hikes. The recent electricity riots and the approaching elections now appear to be having the effect of adding some sense of urgency at the cabinet level to deal with the long festering crisis. 2011 and replaced by CPPA (Central Power Purchasing Agency) with private management would be its successor. As a result. This holding company will supervise the management of four GENCOs to be managed in the private sector and would try will make sure of fresh investment in such GENCOs to improve power generation from existing 3. 250 billion. neither the short-term relief from load shedding nor the long term improvements in the energy sector appear to be on the horizon.

It's absolutely essential that highly competent and fully empowered leadership be brought in urgently to lead the power industry from the dire straits it's in today. . there can be no hope of fixing the economy and spur growth before the next elections. The political leadership in Islamabad must understand the following very clearly: Without first repairing the power sector.