ISLAMABAD -  The government on Wednesday admitted in the Senate that circular debt had crossed its permissible limit but assured the lawmakers that the matter would be resolved soon.

“The circular debt had reached up to 393 billion rupees at the end of the last month, and thus the figure had crossed the permissible limit of 350 billion rupees,” Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said, while responding to the call attention notice of three Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers. “We will maintain his limit soon,” he said.

The minister however dismissed the claims that the amount overdue to the power sector stood at 440 billion rupees.

He also denied reports that Independent Power Producers (IPPs) had called for the Government of Pakistan’s sovereign guarantees to get back the portion of these overdue amounts to the power sector, called circular debt , and payable by the government.

“IPPs have not followed a due process to seek sovereign guarantees and has only sought the overdue amount through media that is malicious,” said the minister.

He admitted that the power sector needed structural reforms.

Khawaja Asif said that the government would soon reduce the circular debt to bring it within its permissible limit by paying Rs30 billion to IPPS by the end of this month.

He said that the government had paid back Rs39 billion to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that were overdue for a long time and this amount had yet to be recovered from the consumers.

“This would also be adjusted in the circular debt to bring it down,” Asif said.

However the remarks of the minister could not satisfy the opposition lawmakers who staged a token protest walkout from the house saying the response was unsatisfactory and contrary to the facts.

Separately, Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani announced that eight Fata senators would from now be treated as independent group of opposition benches on their application.

He added that the Fata lawmakers could not be allocated seats on the opposition benches due to lack of space there.

The law minister, Zahid Hamid, while responding to a motion of MQM Senator Atique Sheikh about writing off Rs4,600 million by banks, while using their own discretion said that the government had nothing to do with writing off loans by various banks.

He said that banks’ boards of directors had written off loans according to the laid down procedure of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), the bank fully owned by the government, has not written off any loan since March 2010, Hamid clarified.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar informed the house that Pakistan also approached to become member of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and after detailed deliberations Pakistan became 104th member of this organization, this year, meant for sharing information about tax evaded money.

He said that the instrument would be operational from next year as 90-member countries out of 104 had agreed to do so.

Therefore, the exchange of information process shall be starting from January 1, 2018, he added.

The house passed a unanimous resolution acknowledging the contribution of Pakistani women in every walk of life and in the development of the country.

“This house reaffirms its commitment to protect the constitutional rights of women and ensure their safety and welfare,” says the resolution readout by Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq.

PPP Senator Sehar Kamran, who was the mover of the resolution, remarked that it might had been good, if a female legislator would have read out the text of the resolution this day.

The chair in recognition of the struggle of Pakistani women left the house and gave opportunity to ANP female Senator Sitara Ayaz to chair the house proceedings.

A number of lawmakers took part in the debate to pay tribute to the Pakistani women on this day.