ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Monday in the Senate accused the Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz for rising circular debt in the power sector stating that the previous regime laid “explosive mines to destroy the country’s economy.”

Winding up the debate on the six-point Opposition backed motion that also included rising inflation in the country, Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan said that the last PML-N government gave undue subsidies in the power sector only for political expediency before going into general election that resulted into the rise in circular debt to a dangerous level.

“Only in a single year, the circular debt increased only up to Rs 450 billion when then PML-N government decided not to raise the power tariff for two years before 2018 general elections,” the Minister said, adding, that the then ruling party also left a circular debt of Rs 250 billion in gas sector.

He said that the past regime gave subsidy of Rs 115 billion in its last year in government only in power sector that had no mention in the budget books.

The Minister said the circular debt during the PML-N government had been increasing at the rate of Rs 39 billion per month which has now been brought down to Rs 14-15 billion per month. He claimed this government has made a record increase of revenues of Rs 120 billion.

He said under the expensive power agreements, then PML-N regime fixed  per unit cost of electricity at Rs 17.5 while renewable energy projects were refused by the then Cabinet Committee on energy that were supposed to generate around 4000 megawatt of electricity at a rate of Rs 6.5 per unit only.

The Energy Minister said that now the PTI government was planning to generate 80 per cent of electricity with domestic resources as at present 70 per cent of the electricity is generated by using imported fuel.

He said when the incumbent government came into power, the system had the capacity to carry only18000 MW, which has now been upgraded to carry up to 27000 MW.

The Minister rejected the criticism of some opposition lawmakers that the PTI government is charging high levy on petroleum products and has not passed on the impact of decreasing international oil prices to the consumers. The last PML-N government had been charging 47 per cent as sales tax and petroleum development levy on petroleum products when the international oil prices were historically low, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar that last regime should concede that it committed “economic blunders.” He said foreign exchange reserves were falling at the rate of 500 million dollars a months during their rule.

He said that this government had to take tough decisions to avert economic collapse and now economy had been stabilised.  

Azhar claimed aid the inflation rate now has dropped from 14.6 percent to 12.4 percent.

He said Pakistan had been placed on FATF’s grey list when PML-N was in power. He blamed that last regime worked only on two out of 27 recommendations of international anti-money laundering watchdog to be implemented to come out of the grey list. He said now all of its recommendations had completely or partially been complied with except two.

Before this, former chairman Senate and PPP Senator Raza Rabbani said in the House that the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh used to prevail upon PM Imran Khan on matters of national economy.

“Whether the “elected Prime Minister Imran Khan and the elected Cabinet are running this country or do we have a third de facto unelected Adviser who with the backing of international financial imperialists is running this country,” he said ,adding, that this is question that needs to be answered.

Rabbani pointed out that the government did not pass on the full advantage of the decreasing oil prices in the international market to the consumers. Prime Minister had advised to pass on the advantage fully to consumers but the advisor prevailed upon PM and said that consumers should be given less relief in order to fulfill revenue shortfall, he said.

Similarly, Prime Minister had recently decided to freeze an increase in prices of power sector but it has now transpired that the government has agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to increase the prices in power sector in the upcoming months, he added.

Rabbani said that the Adviser who was part of all negotiations with the IMF used to prevail upon Prime Minister and refuses to come to the house to answer questions in this connection.

Quoting some media reports, PPP lawmaker brought the attention of the House that National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) in a meeting had asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to declare a national power emergency in the country to scale down Rs 1.93 trillion circular debt.