Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani directed the Ministry of Finance to immediately release Rs 6 billion to the Water and Power Ministry for onward payment to generation companies to increase power generation to reduce loadshedding in the country.
The meeting of the Cabinet Committee on energy presided over by the Prime Minister on Thursday also decided to convene a conference on energy on April 9, 2012 to evolve a policy towards dealing with the problem of energy crisis in consultation with various stakeholders. An official said the Prime Minister was briefed about the problems that have given birth to circular debt issue as well as outstanding dues against the provinces and various public and private departments. The meeting also briefed the Prime Minister about the liquidity problems faced by the power sector due to delay in determination of fuel adjustment by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority. The amount, according to an official has reached around Rs 77 billion on this account. Prime minister was also apprised about the gravity of the problem in collection of bills because of violent protests in various cities and towns. The Minister for Water and Power reportedly stated that the collection of accumulated five months fuel adjustment charges in one month had resulted in a public outcry.
Gilani also directed Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources to take immediate steps for the provision of gas to power plants with a view to adding more electricity to the national grid and stressed the need for continuous co-ordination and discussion. He also directed the Energy Committee to hold its meetings on a daily basis for ensuring implementation of various Cabinet decisions to help resolve the issue of circular debt.
The Prime Minister also directed the Minister for Water and Power to hold a meeting with defaulting provincial governments and private sector for the recovery of outstanding amounts to solve circular debt and liquidity issues of the power sector. Gilani directed the Minister for Water and Power to hold meetings with members of business community and other stakeholders to seek their views. According to the prime minister, the shortage of energy is the main impediment towards attracting foreign investment.
The meeting was briefed by the Minister for Water and Power regarding the current energy shortfall and the steps taken so far to rationalise loadshedding. He informed the meeting that due to the current long winter spell the hydel production had suffered. The Minister said the water inflow was expected to rise in April and a consequent increase in hydel generation would help reduce loadshedding.
The Minister for Finance, who was especially invited to brief the meeting about the views of foreign investors, apprised the meeting that a large number of foreign investors from various countries had shown a keen interest in a number of sectors in Pakistan. Another official said that a decline in foreign direct investment in the country was attributed mainly to prevailing energy crisis and security conditions. The Finance Minister apprised the Prime Minister about different long, medium and short-term measures which the Energy Committee had so far deliberated upon to resolve the problem of circular debt and improve the performance of power sector.
Minister for Petroleum put up various suggestions to improve supply of gas to power plants for increasing power generation. The meeting was attended by Minister of Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, Deputy Chairman Planning Dr Nadeem ul Haq, secretaries of the relevant ministries and other high government officials.