Rs480bn circular debt payment: Govt response to audit paras not satisfactory
ISLAMABAD: The government has been unable to give any satisfactory response to the audit paras on the payment of Rs 480 billion circular debt made to the power sector and members of a parliamentary panel have accused Ministry of Water and Power of changing stance of making payment of idle capacity to the IPPs.
A three members’ sub-committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, headed by Mohsin Aziz, met here on Thursday for an in-depth consideration of the payment of Rs 480 billion. The meeting remarked, “We have given ample time to the Ministry of Water and Power to submit replies on audit paras but failed to get any response.”
“This book (audit) on Rs 480 billion hasty settlement of circular debt by the government after coming into power can not be thrown out,” the committee chairman and members stated. There is no improvement in the situation after four years as the country is still facing same hours of electricity load-shedding and volume of circular debt has compounded to the level of 2013.
The committee also remarked that Water and Power Ministry has been changing stance on payment of idle capacity to the IPPs as the ministry stated in the last meeting that IPPs have the capacity of producing more electricity which cannot be lifted due to weak system. However, now the ministry has come up with a different version and stated that IPPs have the capacity of producing electricity but can not do so due to non-payment of power dues by the government.
The committee questioned the justification for making payment of idle capacity when the country has been facing 12 hours load-shedding since 2007.
Representative of the audit stated that Public Account Committee (PAC) has not settled any of the audit paras of Rs 480 billion circular debt payment made to the power sector and acknowledged that “payment was made without referring to the accountant general’s pre-audit.”
Joint Secretary Power, Ministry of Water and Power, Zargham Eshaq Khan stated that the PAC has directed to conduct heat cost to determine whether or not extra payment was made to the IPPs. The members of the committee stated how the PAC can make settlement of audit report contingent to the heat testing of the IPPs.
Committee member Kamil Ali Agha said that condition of heat test has now been suggested to avert audit paras. “If heat test was so important then why it was not done before making payment of Rs 480 billion,” he added.
The chairman of the committee stated that all these power projects were commissioned at a very exorbitant price because money was going into the pockets of a few individuals. The price of the high cost electricity is now being paid by the industry and the people of the country.
The members of the committee stated that it was wheeling and dealing on part of the PAC to impose such condition for settlement of audit paras.
“The PAC has compromised the existence of the AGP and undermined the audit report of circular debt by making this kind of condition,” said the chairman while other members of the committee lauded the role of AGP and stated that this audit report is very important because it carries serious allegations.
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