ISLAMABAD - The government is set to avoid major criticism in the audit report into the decision to pay off the circular debt of power companies to be considered by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today, MPs have told The Nation.

The report by the Auditor General into the decision to release the circular debt of Rs 480 billion to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) will trigger fierce debate between government and opposition in the PAC meeting.

Many MPs are highly critical of the decision to hand over such a large sum of money at a time when public anger over load-shedding and power outages is rising. The Public Accounts committee (PAC) Chairman Khurshid Shah had directed Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) to present the initial report earlier this month.

One of the first acts of the PML-N government after taking power in 2013 was to spend public funds on the debts to IPPs. It feared the producers would have collapsed if the deadline for payments was not met.

While the government has consistently rejected the charges of wrongdoing surrounding the payments, the opposition members have raised suspicions that undue influence was brought to bear. The opposition PAC members are prepared to give the government side a tough time on the Auditor’s initial findings.

“As I think, there will be no misappropriation identified in the report. We should keep in mind there are also other fora to correct wrongdoings,” said a PAC member Sheikh Rohail Asghar from PML-N, who added he believed the government would be vindicated in the decision. “The money was given for a national project...Discussion on it will show the real picture,” he added.

Abdul Manan, another MP from treasury benches, was optimistic that the report would expose any misuse of resources by the incumbent government. “There is no need to raise hue and cry on this issue,” he remarked.

Talking to The Nation, PTI lawmaker Arif Alvi said that they (PAC members) were ready to give tough time if the report was not presented in the committee. “I am not very sure the initial report will be presented in the body tomorrow (Tuesday),” he said. A PAC member from PTI Shafqat Mehmood submitted a letter to the committee highlighting flaws in the decision. Auditor General of Pakistan Asad Amin assured the committee that the final report on this colossal amount would be compiled in 15 days.

Mehmood has also demanded a previous report compiled by the former AGP be brought before the committee.

In the letter the opposition MP said the former auditor, Bulund Akhtar Rana, had ordered to review the books of the State Bank of Pakistan to ascertain how such amount was released to the IPPs without following all the financial formalities. He, with other members, demanded that the report should be presented before the PAC meeting.