IN an act that did not increase the quantum of Megawatts on the national grid, the Managing Director of the Pakistan Electric Power Company has been sacked. Insiders claim the erstwhile MD was made a scapegoat. His recent blunt statements, specially his vehement insistence in demanding the receivables due to the organization, did not exactly endear him towards the government. Such arbitrary, summary decisions are not quite the way to go about things. The nation faces a severe electric power shortage. Granted, it was not on this government's watch that the problem arose. Our beleaguered utilities giant WAPDA was under military management even before the coup of '99. It was during this whole period that the number crunchers at WAPDA could not get their power demand growth figures right; the growth rate of power demand outstrips that of the GDP in developing countries, many people having entered the electric net, as it were. They probably thought that the surplus that they had then would be enough to sustain the increase in demand. They were wrong. We have a whopping 3000 MW power deficit on our hands. And it is set to increase. Now a significant chunk of the deficit is because of transmission losses. These are incurred because of problems in infrastructure and lack of maintenance. Why can't there be newer infrastructure and routine maintenance? Because both the newer equipment and the overall maintenance of the whole network costs a lot of money. WAPDA does not have that money because it is not getting the money it is due from the consumers. Not regular, average Joe consumers. Those are easy to handle; just cut the juice and they'll be back on track. Not commercial firms; repeat the previous mentioned exercise on a larger scale. The larger problem arises from the government departments that refuse to pay up on their arrears. If the government were to sack anyone at WAPDA or PEPCO or the DisCos that was demanding this money, it would never find anyone who will be able to do the job.