Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has stated that the price of electricity would go up by as much as Rs 6 per unit in the next two and a half years. He announced this while explaining that against the backdrop of the bleak economic scenario, a strain on the government’s kitty has been thrust as a result of paying off the circular debt.

It was, however, good news when he assured Governor of Sindh Dr Ishrat-ul-Ibad that a considerable sum of money had been paid to the KESC which would lessen the loadshedding spells to quite some degree.

Having dealt with the problem in both its stints in power, the central government probably has a good understanding of how serious a crisis energy shortage is or for that matter how seriously it could damage its popularity. The measures it has taken so far definitely leave no doubt it is on a way to eliminating it but one of the strategies it seems to be relying is to give from one hand and take it back from the other. The circular debt is being paid and so we are seeing a gradual reduction in blackouts while the flipside is that this money is being generated from the consumers’ pockets through a depletion of subsidies and scaled up billing. At instances, average bills are going up than the average income ordinary man draws. And given the inflation, it is becoming a vicious circle of more and more bills, circular debt and poverty and at its receiving end the masses.

Ways to bring down the cost of electricity would have to be found. Whether there is electricity or not, the people can manage to survive but what they cannot survive without is bread. One of the most reliable means to bring the cost down to realistic levels is turning to the hydel power for energy generation instead of the power houses run on furnace oil, whose cost is going to go up given uncertainty of the oil market. Some years from now, the circular debt will again go out of control and we would be back at square one. Developing hydel and other sources of electricity can only bail us out of the present energy quagmire.