The ever-worsening energy situation in Pakistan is a major cause for the sluggishness of the growth rate. Now the Asian Development Bank is offering $2.5 billion, but not without conditions: the government must increase power tariff and reduce subsidies. Its country Director Werner Liepach has plainly said that the bank would not give financial assistance to fund Pakistan’s budgetary deficit unless these conditions are met. Increase in power rates would spell doom for the common man, who is already paying backbreaking charges, but with the theft of electricity by large and small consumers alike, there appears to be little choice except to increase the burden on the few who are paying, in the short term. In the long term, more people will have to be bought into the billing net and a mindset will have to be cultivated by which paying for electricity gives you the right to utilise it, not otherwise.

Apart from the billing gap, the energy crisis is also due to lack of future planning to maintain existing facilities and harness natural resources to fulfil the needs of the growing population. Pakistan generates 48 percent of its energy from gas, 33 percent from hydel, 17 percent from oil, 2 percent from nuclear and only 1 percent from coal. The pity is that while no serious effort is being made to exploit the plentiful hydel and coal resources, both the ADB and NEPRA are for the easy money to be gained from raising the tariff. NEPRA has already sent up a summary to increase the prices of petroleum products which would impact the generation cost and further crush the citizenry. A holistic approach to assuage the energy crisis is desperately needed, if the situation is to be salvaged, rather than making it still worse.