ISLAMABAD - Following the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari, the Finance Ministry has released Rs 7 billion to the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) that would improve the electricity supply in the country in the next couple of days.
Sources say the Finance Ministry is likely to disburse another Rs 4 billion in coming days against the immediate demand of Rs 23 billion made by the power producers.
Sources further said President Asif Ali Zardari, while chairing a high level meeting the other day, directed the Finance Ministry to immediately release sufficient funds to IPPs that could reduce the power loadshedding hours in the country.
It is worth noting that the overall receivables from the power purchaser for the IPP industry amounted to around Rs 232 billion.
Meanwhile, Secretary Finance Abdul Wajid Rana on Friday briefed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs that the government had given Rs 119 billion subsidy to the power sector so far in the financial year 2011-2012. He said the government had been giving Rs 4 per unit subsidy to the power sector, as the determined average sale tariff of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) was Rs 10.65 per kWh against the government's notified tariff of Rs 6.07.
Rana told the committee that the government had given more than Rs 1000 billion subsidy to the power sector over the last four years, adding that the Power Distribution Companies (DISCOs) were unable to collect Rs 90 billion from consumers during the outgoing fiscal year.
The finance secretary dispelled the impression that the Centre was resorting to any discrimination against Punjab regarding the loadshedding, saying even the federal capital was experiencing six to eight hours of outages a day. "A summery will move to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet to seek its approval for issuing Term Finance Certificates (TFC) to generate Rs 80 billion to overcome the circular debt issue," he added.
The National Assembly committee, with Fauzia Wahab in the chair, also discussed the economic outlook of the outgoing financial year 2011-12 and the budget for the year 2012-13. Rana informed the committee that the government, which was most likely to announce the budget on June 1, wanted to keep the GDP growth target at 4.5 per cent for the next fiscal year against the revised target of 3.6 per cent of the outgoing financial year.
“The fiscal deficit is expectedly to be fixed at 4.2 per cent as compare to 4.7 per cent of outgoing fiscal year, with the inflation rate at 9.5 per cent. The public sector debt to GDP ratio is projected 56 per cent against its revised target of 59 per cent.”
Talking about the current economic situation, Rana said the fiscal deficit was recorded at 4.3 per cent of GDP during the first nine months (July-March) of the current financial year as against 4.6 per cent of the same period last year, while the collection made by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) stood at Rs 1416 billion in the July-April period.
The meeting was informed that around 0.7 million new potential taxpayers had been identified and 0.5 million tax non-filers were served the notices for their inaction.
The federal secretary said exports had been recorded at $18.3 billion during July-March 2011-12 against $17.9 billion in the corresponding period last year, whereas imports remained at $29.9 billion against the previous level of $26 billion.
The standing committee recommended the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to coordinate with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) for identifying new potential taxpayers in the country. The committee directed the FBR to offer incentives to the taxpayers and setting up special counters at airports, railway stations, hospitals and other public places for facilitating and motivating them.
Meanwhile, after the massive protests observed across the country the Ministry of Water and Power announced ending unannounced loadshedding in the country.
According to a spokesman, electricity shortfall had been reduced to 4000 MW, while an amount of Rs 7 billion was released to the PSO for oil supply to the thermal powerhouses.
He said public sector thermal plants had been directed to utilise maximum generating capacity that would help add 1,000 MW to the national grid.
Another official said the government had to take the matter seriously as the protests were turning violent across the country.
On the other hand, Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar also claimed in the Upper House that the power supply would become normal now and several steps were being taken to reduce the outages.