THE government has announced urgent measures to cope with the ongoing power crisis. Keeping in view the countrywide protests against shortages, it was decided to exclude domestic consumers from the gas cuts. Similarly, power loom factories providing livelihood to tens of thousands workers and small entrepreneurs have been excluded from loadshedding. While the relaxation in gas cuts would provide relief to a fairly large section of population, the burden will be shifted to a section of industry, which has increasingly become dependent on gas consumption for generating the required power. Any significant decline in production in this sector would add to unemployment and increase domestic prices. In case of textile industry, which earns 65 percent of foreign exchange and provides employment to 40 percent of industrial labour, this would lead to reduction in exports and loss of markets. Managements of textile related units have already threatened to go on strike from January 10 if what they call discriminatory load shedding of gas and electricity is not stopped. The government also decided to end unscheduled loadshedding, a measure difficult to fully implement in view of the huge burden on the national grid and a distribution system that needs improvement. Power shortage, presently as large as 4,500 megawatts, has been mainly caused by the reduced water outflow from the dams. This has forced the power producers to increasingly rely on gas, causing gas shortages. Burdened by outstanding dues from KESC, FATA, and federal and provincial governments a huge circular debt of Rs 400 billion has been accumulated by the oil companies, refineries and IPIs, leading to the closure of several power units. While the decision to release Rs 7.5 billion might encourage the companies to activate some of their closed facilities, the amount is too small to encourage them to realise their full potential. What is needed is to improve the quality of governance. The authorities have to act with determination to realise the receivables so that the debt is fully paid off. One hopes they can maintain the supply of 30,000 tons of furnace oil per day to power generating companies, which is likely to add 2,700 megawatts to the system by the month's end. Mian Nawaz Sharif has called on the government to take the issue to the National Assembly. While a debate in the Lower House would help pinpoint the mistakes committed in the past that have led to the crisis, it would also help bring out whether more measures need to be taken to deal with it. There are questions that have to be answered including why successive governments failed to build consensus on building mega water reservoirs and the decision taken to generate coal-based energy was not implemented.