The issue of power purchase, and when it is made, has come up before. Recently, PSO said that it bought additional furnace oil to meet a shortfall by K-Electric in Karachi, so that the people of Karachi would not suffer. The question, however, is why furnace oil was bought when a few months before in August and September, LNG was available at far lower costs. Purchasing it at that point and using it in the future could have saved the country millions of rupees. The Ministry of Energy has denied that mistakes were made. However, other experts say that the failure to purchase cheap LNG has cost the country millions.
There’s also the issue of setting up a power production plant in the country, with a delay in this leading to at least one company stating it is no longer interested in establishing the power plant in Pakistan; the power plant was to go up next year. However, Minister for Energy and Power Omar Ayub says that two other companies are still interested, and the power plant will be set up indeed. Certainly, Pakistan needs to deal more efficiently with its energy crisis. Already, there is a huge shortfall of energy in Punjab which will soon spread to Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well. Then there is the issue of circular debt – which pops up time and again – regardless of government denial. The figures of circular keep being denied or disputed, leading to even more chaos on the policy front. There also seems to be an attempt to give the prime minister a brighter picture of the performance of various ministries and agencies rather than the true picture of what crisis the country faces. This is unfair – both to the government and to the people of the country.
The circular debt problem has lasted for a very long time. It has to be cared for through sensible purchases at the right time, when gas prices are lower, and the gas can be put to use by power companies or others in need of the commodity. Furnace oil is the most expensive way to produce electricity. It is difficult to understand why we continue to use it when it means huge losses for the country. The ministry has also denied that transmission losses have risen since 2018, but figures by Nepra suggest that this has indeed happened. The problem needs to be sorted out so that everyone is on the same page and correct figures can be put before the public and before the prime minister.