ISLAMABAD - A spokesman of Ministry of Water and Power has stated that due to non-availability of gas for power generation, Pakistan is heavily relying on oil based energy generation that has reached at an alarming level of 46 per cent against 5.6 per cent internationally. While reviewing the background to recent modifications in power sector tariff applicable to different set of consumers in 8 PEPCO Distribution Companies, the spokesman drew the attention of valued consumers stating that this heavy reliance on imported oil is on account of non-availability of gas for power generation and less than the required addition of hydro generation to the system during the last more than ten years. Consumerism and heavy appliance load during peak hours has disturbed the normal pattern of demand in Pakistan, thus forcing use of expensive oil generation during peak hours. The spokesman further explained that heavy unpaid subsidies, specifically for the period 2003 till early 2008, with eventual built-up of the inter-corporate/circular debt amounting to Rs.400 billion resulted in financial problems for the sector. Consequently, 500-1500 MW of GENCOs and IPPs power remained off-bar during 2007, 2008 and early 2009. It was disclosed that the circular debt has since been cleared by the Government through the creation of a debt co, Viz Power Holding Company. As a result, presently not even one MW of generation capacity stands unutilized on account of financial crunch or non-availability of fuel. However, 500-700 MW of generation remains idle when gas is not available for these machines. Additionally, the spokesman explained in detail that the Power crisis spurned on account of non-activity of the last one decade has been countered by the commissioning of 600 MW of new IPPs during 2009, while another 1,000 MW is in the final stages and would hopefully be available for power supply to the public within the next 40 days. Three Rental Power Plants are also in the offing through which another 250 MW will be added to the national system. As these new additions are mostly based on oil because no alternative is available, these may put pressure on the power tariff, but because the cost of not supplying power to the economy is much more than what would be the cost of comparatively expensive energy, therefore, new additions are needed. Another question has arisen regarding the perception that subsidy to lifeline customers and the agri-tubewells has been withdrawn. This perception is not correct, as subsidy to both lifeline customers and to the agri-tubewell customers continues to be given and the same for the FY 2009-10 is calculated to be Rs. 14.6 billion and Rs. 42.2 billion respectively. On the other hand, tariff for both these categories cannot be frozen and thus has been pegged with others. As such, increase/decrease in the tariff would be passed on to all categories equally. At the same time, the spokesman explained that to further ensure transparency in the system, and also to pass on the dividends of reduction in oil prices from time to time, NEPRA is determining monthly fuel price adjustments. It was because of this that the tariff was decreased by 13 paisas in August 2009. The monthly fuel price adjustment has been decided to be vividly portrayed on the monthly electricity bills for the benefit of the customers. This is in line with what OGRA does for POL products. The spokesman further stated that the Government is in the process of focusing on the improvement of performance of power companies and also to ensure transparency in the billing to customers. Over-billing and wrong bills will not be tolerated and it was because of this resolve that the whole team of one DISCO was changed three months ago. The spokesman also requested power customers to ensure timely payment of bills, to pinpoint theft of electricity and to conserve the precious commodity of electricity. All these measures would help in the sustainability of the Power Sector and quality service to the people.