KARACHI, Aug 8,2013 (Manzoor Chandio / UPI Next) — Two Pakistani provinces have raised strong objections to a provision in a federal government plan that would allow the federal government to deduct money from provincial funds to cover power bill arrears.
The language is included in the July 22 National Energy Policy for 2013 to 2018, intended to resolve a prolonged energy crisis that has brought major disruptions to Pakistanis’ lives. It seeks provinces’ help in ending rolling blackouts in three to four years, recovering $3.37 billion in electricity arrears incurred by provincial governments and consumers, and ending power pilferage. The federal government buys bulk electricity from private power companies and sells it to consumers.
Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, however, where 80 percent of the country’s electricity is produced, are protesting the federal deduction provision. Sindh particularly objects to the amount of the arrears it has been assessed.
Sindh government spokesman Taj Haider said the province had been asked to pay $402.5 million — more than 10 percent of the total $3.37 billion in outstanding bills — as just the first installment of its share.