The difference in the statements of Independent Power Producers (IPP) and the inquiry committee that held them responsible for losses in the power sector over the years paint two completely dissimilar pictures. On the one hand, the inquiry committee in its 278-page report, deems misappropriation in tariff and fuel consumption rates, exorbitant profit margins and unfair agreements with power plants as the reason for the losses. On the other, IPPs have blamed the state for failing to pay Rs600 billion over the years, which has brought these companies to the brink of bankruptcy.

In all likelihood, the truth lies somewhere in between. It is quite true that the cash crunch faced by IPPs due to non-payment of dues is an issue that predates this government, and is one that has naturally caused numerous liquidity problems for power companies over the years. They have often cited this reason as their inability to invest in the energy infrastructure, work on other issues in the sector or even pay international oil companies on time.

But now that the government has raised tariffs significantly from previous years and attempted to formulate more financially stable policies for the energy sector, how is it that the IPPs are still suffering? Granted, this payout of Rs600 billion must be released by the government. Where we must protect state resources, we also need to ensure that our energy policy delivers results. Those results are consistent energy, consistent power, consistent production. This is needed especially more so after the coronavirus crisis. A penny saved is a penny earned, but let’s not go into grey territory where we pay face another judgement of the International Arbitration Court against us. Pennywise pound foolish we cannot be.