Lahore: The unpaid bills of power companies have again piled up to a precarious level of Rs216 billion in less than six months after the Nawaz Sharif government had settled the previous ‘overdue’ bills of both the public and private electricity producers and their fuel suppliers for the pre-March 2013 period.
While clearing chunk of the unpaid bills of the power companies at the end of June and the remaining in early July, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had vowed never to let what is commonly known as circular debt to rise again. The unprecedented step that pushed the budget deficit to 8.2pc of GDP last fiscal, he had claimed, would ease power shortages.
In all the government had cleared the unpaid bills of the public and private power companies and their fuel suppliers to the tune of Rs480bn through cash payment of over Rs322bn just before the close of the last fiscal, and non-cash settlement of above Rs138bn in the first few weeks of the current financial year.
According to independent power producers (IPPs) sources, the government had initially continued to make partial payments to them against their bills for the post-March period.
The IPPs blame the government’s failure to cut the transmission and distribution inefficiencies and losses and theft amounting to one-third of the country’s total power productions, delayed increase in the electricity price, poor recovery of the unpaid bills of more than Rs500bn from defaulting consumers, etc. for the rapid growth in their unpaid bills.
Another IPP executive said the government was holding up ‘overdue payments’ to the power companies to meet the revenue targets given by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
According to the details of the unpaid bills of the power companies accumulated since April provided by the IPPs, the government owes Rs56.73bn to Gencos (public sector power generation firms), Rs3.77bn to Chashma Power; Rs3.48bn to hydel plants, Rs44.45bn to the IPPS (set up under the 2002 power policy), and Rs108.10bn to the IPPs (established under the 1994 policy).