Managing circular debt

THOUGH PTI government is yet to appoint a minister to look after the affairs of power division, yet it appears to be determined to address some of the chronic problems faced by the sector over the last many years. Foremost amongst them indeed is the circular debt. At its first meeting, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar decided to address the root cause of circular debt that reportedly has reached Rs 1.17 trillion.
Successive governments indeed are to be blamed for the current state of power sector as definite efforts were made to improve power generation but nothing was done to improve the efficiency of power division and address the issue of power pilferage which is resulting in accumulation of circular debt time and again. During the PML (N) government Asad Umar was amongst the few PTI leaders who used to persistently raise the matter of circular debt and one expects that being the Finance Minister, now he will have solutions in mind to address the longstanding issue. It is heartening to note that Mr Umar also sought and welcome valuable inputs from other members of the ECC. Also chairing a briefing on Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan also voiced a serious concern vis-à-vis power theft and swelling circular debt that certainly is a burden on the national exchequer. He said that a task force is being constituted to work out a comprehensive strategy for addressing all such issues with special focus on improved governance, system augmentation, tariff rationalisation and plugging various loopholes in power generation, transmission and the distribution system.
As also stated by the PM, a mass level awareness campaign needs to be launched against power pilferage as checking this menace will not only help address the issue of circular debt but also help the government to bring down the prices of electricity as promised by it in the election manifesto. Proposals such as installing pre-paid meters and underground lines will also help eliminate the bane of pilferage. As a first step, the Prime Minister should immediately induct a competent Minister for Power who has the capability to take tough decisions in order to steer the power division out of current crisis-like situation.

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