The power outages in the country as a result of the rising temperatures all point towards the same problem that was being highlighted before Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) came into power – i.e. circular debt and a shortfall in the amount of power supplied. PML-N was at the forefront to criticise the policies of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and accumulation of almost Rs480 billion in circular debt. However, it seems that its own policies have fared no better. The recent figures highlight that we are back to square one with a circular debt of over Rs440 billion.

PML-N’s primary claim to power was to do away with the circular debt and end the energy crisis for good. Despite the non-existence of energy sector reforms, we were promised that this would be the last that we would hear of the debt. Initially payments were made to the suppliers through controversial means and the situation was controlled. But even this was a stop-gap measure, and we soon saw the debt rise astronomically yet again.

Another interesting factor that comes to the forefront is the lack of procedural protocol. An accountant general pointed out that Rs165 billion of the debt payments could have been avoided, if a simple pre-audit function had been performed. Since our institutions lack any planning, the three-day exercise was done away with and the extra amount was paid.

If PML-N continues in the same trajectory, the amount will increase and become a burden for the next government. What this highlights is that the Circular Debt Management Plan 2015, which was effectively chalked out, has not been adhered to at all.

Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has ordered a third party audit for the circular debt. He also asked the water and power ministry to immediately reduce load shedding duration in the country. If the solution was just an order away, why has the population been facing the wrath of the heat for this long?

If it was known that the state needs to improve the performance of state-owned distribution companies, and avoid line losses – why has it not been done yet? Why has the release of Rs104 billion as subsidy been ordered just now?

The problem of bad man and debt management needs to be resolved before this term is over, or PML-N will have a hard time convincing even loyalists that it can still deliver on the promises made.