Sunday Jan 24, 2021
Former finance minister Miftah Ismail has criticised the incumbent government’s decision to suspend gas supply to domestic industry from February 1 and export industry from March 1 and further demanded that the government withdraw a recent hike in the power tariff.
According to Geo News, Miftah said it was strange to suspend gas supply to industries.
“This will cause serious problems for the textile and other sectors," he observed.
The former finance minister also pointed out that the incumbent government was buying LNG at expensive rates as it was placing orders late.
“[They] fail to purchase gas and dump the fruits of their incompetence on the industries,” he said, urging the government to withdraw the decision.
The PML-N leader said the PTI government was putting a burden of Rs200 billion on consumers by raising electricity tariff by a flat Rs1.95. He explained that the price was being increased as the country’s circular debt has reached its highest level in history.
“We left circular debt at Rs1,036 billion. Under Imran Khan, the figure has exceeded Rs2,400 billion and it grows by Rs50 to Rs60 billion per month due to expensive power generation.”
Miftah said PM Imran raised the power tariff soon after assuming office in an attempt to stop circular debt from increasing.
“Annually, the circular debt is increasing by Rs600 billion which is mostly due to losses incurred in transmission and distribution of electricity.”
The former finance minister said the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) factors in a loss of 15%.
“When the PML-N came to power, the electricity wastage was recorded at 21%. We reduced it to 18% and now the current government has again raised it to 19%.”
Miftah added that electricity wastage was costing the national exchequer a loss of Rs15 billion on average per month.
He said the average collection of electricity bills was 93% during the PML-N tenure but it dropped to 80% as the country was hit by the coronavirus pandemic last year. “At present, the electricity bills collection stands at 88%.”
Miftah argued that the PTI government is not complying with the Nepra merit order and a 5% recovery rate was also causing losses.
The PML-N leader said the incumbent government was generating power from expensive power plants instead of opting for cheaper options. Criticizing the delay in ordering LNG supply, Miftah said the PTI government was generating electricity from expensive sources: furnace oil and diesel.
“Last summer, they generated 280 million units of electricity from diesel costing Rs18 per unit, and five billion from furnace oil costing Rs13. One unit of electricity generated from LNG and natural gas costs about Rs6 or less,” he said.
Miftah said the PML-N generated more than 11,000 megawatts of electricity and planned to further increase generation.
“On one hand, the PTI government says there is power surplus and on the other, they are establishing new power plants,” he said.
The former minister said the PML-N government left power consumption growing by 10% but the incumbent government has “wrecked the economy, leading to a decrease in consumption.”
Urging the government to close down 50-year-old power plants running on furnace oil, Miftah said the commodity benefitted few and is causing great loss to the country.