THE burgeoning debt that the various official and private agencies owe to PEPCO could not but seriously affect its performance in maintaining the existing power system, let alone execute projects to expand the network's capacity. Its own failings apart, though those are by no means insignificant, the removal of this crippling burden ought to be among the authorities' list of priorities. The availability of funds will enable PEPCO to clear the IPPs' dues in time so as to forestall the closure of power stations run by them. Its importance can be gauged from the fact that improvement in power supply will make it possible for industry, agriculture and other facets of life to function more smoothly, generate more resources and help the economy pick up. Although its net circular debt comes to more than Rs 400 billion, the amount due from FATA, Rs80 billion and rising by at least Rs1 billion a month, is receiving media attention because some sources have come up with the suggestion of asking the US to foot the bill as part of the reparations for the devastation its War on Terror has caused there. But then the Americans, who never tire of pointing an accusing finger at Islamabad for not going the whole hog in playing its role in fighting militancy, have not paid $1.35 billion for the past nine months, the amount it is committed to remit in the context of war efforts. Nor have they started the 'reconstruction opportunity zones' President Bush announced three years ago. It is, therefore, highly unlikely that they would see the wisdom of clearing the FATA amount. The government must gear up its own resources to take care of this mounting debt whose clearance holds the prospects of reversing the economic and financial slump in the country. The government departments and private agencies, which have defaulted on the payment of electricity dues, should be made to realise that non-payment is a big constraint on the country's economic revival.