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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that the budget deficit has reached Rs5.6 trillion and its main issues are related to the energy and power sectors including outstanding recoveries and the circular debt.

Responding to a calling attention notice regarding unannounced electricity load-shedding in rural, as well as, urban areas of Balochistan in the National Assembly on Monday, the minister said that the circular debt has more than doubled during the past four years to reach Rs2.460 trillion due to bad governance and incompetence of the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and termed it “the biggest challenge” for the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government to control it before the next general election.

Responding to the questions of the members, the minister said, “Our previous PML-N government had left Rs1.060 trillion circular debt that jumped to Rs2.460 trillion. The debt increased just because of bad governance and incompetence on the part of Imran Khan-led government.”

The minister said that 21,500 megawatt of electricity was being produced, which is more than our demand. He said that in the past, our PML-N government had added 12,000 MW of electricity in the national grid.

He said, “Now the biggest challenge is for us to control the increasing debt. In order to bring down the circular debt, I have directed the power distribution companies (Discos) to ensure timely and full payments to the Central Power Purchase Agency (CPPA) against the purchase of electricity units by making a 100 per cent recovery from all customers/ consumers.”

Burgeoning fiscal deficit

He said that we had made a commitment to control load-shedding in the country till May 12. There is no load-shedding at the feeders of those areas where recovery is 90 percent which falls in the first category while one-hour load-shedding at those feeders whose recovery is 80 percent and it falls in the second category and so on.

The minister claimed that the people are facing load-shedding due to the mismanagement of the previous PTI government. He claimed that the previous PTI government did not purchase Re-gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) timely.

He said that there are Rs339 billion outstanding recoveries from farmers of Balochistan in terms of tube-well subsidy. He said that according to sharing formula of subsidy, the farmer had to pay Rs10000, whose bill is less than Rs75000 while the remaining amount had to be paid at the rate of 60:40 by federal and provincial governments, respectively. He said that there are Rs25 billion payable from the Balochistan government and Rs39 billion from the federal government.

He said that the government would also facilitate the people on the generation of electricity from solar systems in far-flung areas in the coming budget.

He expressed his commitment to providing maximum electricity to Balochistan. He also urged members of the House to convey the concerned quarters if they find any unscheduled load-shedding. The minister said that the directions have already been given to the distribution companies that electricity should not be disrupted on technical grounds.

He; however, said the government is facing resources’ constraints in the provision of uninterrupted electricity due to the mismanagement of the previous government.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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