The early onset of spring has given people some relief from low Sui gas pressure while the gas for the industry and supply of CNG stations has also been restored. With the canal closure coming to an end, the water releases from Mangla and Tarbela dams have further eased the power shortages. This, while the summer load of ACs, coolers and fans has not yet picked-up. Time to thank our luck now that miseries of loadshedding and curtailment of gas pressure are finally over. This may be too good to be true or just a lull before the storm, you never know. The people need to be told the actual reality of the so-called 'massive circular debt' in the energy sector, which is still reportedly unresolved. The erstwhile Advisor to the PM on Finance & Economic Affairs was reported as having stated recently (on Feb 5) that the government intends to raise TFC's of Rs 75 billion for PEPCO and dispose off PEPCO properties to raise another Rs 75 billion. These amounts are supposed to ease the pressure on the power sector that is reportedly submerged in the debt of about Rs 300 billion, comprising bank loans of Rs. 110 billion, IPP payables of Rs 120 billion, oil & gas companies payments of Rs 25 billion and some other miscellaneous payments of about Rs 40 billion. Payable dues to HUBCO alone are reported to be a staggering Rs 57 billion while those of KAPCO are also Rs 42 billion. The consequence of this mountain of debt is that the IPP'S and GENCOs have not paid PSO, which is under a debt of about Rs. 80 billion and is unable to pay for oil imports. On the other hand the gas utilities have also not been paid by KESC, GENCOs, SSGC & SNGPL who are all cash-starved and are resorting to bank borrowings to pay staff salaries. Instead of coming up with a practical solution, the Ministry of Finance has come up with the TFC approach. The current capital markets surely do not have the appetite for a power sector TFC of Rs 75 billion. And one wonders if PEPCO properties are worth that much or disposable at all. -MUNAWAR B. AHMAD, via e-mail, Lahore, February 27.