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LAHORE: The Ministry of Energy is considering an advisory council of power sector to address the management issues of distribution companies (Discos), said power sector sources.

The sources said the power sector experts have recommended the ministry to act fast because the default of Discos has exceeded Rs 2.5 trillion which they have to pay back to consumers under different heads.

They also added that the circular debt has reached $ 2.6 trillion out of which only $ 350 billion has been paid off so far. They said not only the power division of the federal Ministry of Energy has failed to manage the affairs of power sector, but the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has zero control over the Discos.

It lacks either wherewithal or missing the will to put the power sector in order, they added. The sources said that China is also reluctant to carry on power sector projects on fast track because of a chaotic situation in the power sector.

According to the sources, the ministry was pointed out that the Discos have even lacking ability to bill and recover their dues from their consumers due to the faulty operational control. The Board of Directors (BoDs) of most of the Discos carrying representation of people with either no or very little experience of how to run a utility. They do not understand operations and majority of them were inducted from K-Electric by the former Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tabish Gohar.

They said the worst part of the situation is the burden of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) which have become existential threat to the country. According to them, successive governments tried to put the house in order for four times in last 20 years but all these efforts are proved futile due to the intervention of hidden hands.

Such half hearted efforts have damaged the reputation of Pakistan on the one hand and hampered fresh investment in the energy sector on the other. According to the sources, some 35 new projects have proposed till 2045 under the ITCEF plan, which would be a repeat of another set of IPPs.

The ministry has started realizing that the power sector has been plagued with management issues therefore constitution of an advisory council has become need of the hour. According to the sources, some 20 ex-employees of power sector technocrats are being considered to appoint as members of the proposed advisory council. This council will meet fortnightly to propose management solutions fortnightly.

The sources said the ministry has a strong realisation that any further mismanagement in the energy sector would lead to de-industrialisation and challenges of food security because Discos would not be able to continue with power supply to agriculture tube wells. Similarly, they said, the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) also lacks the capacity to transmit extra power generation, particularly through renewable energy sources, which has surpassed over two percent at present.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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