ISLAMABAD – President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday ordered the prime minister to hold a comprehensive inquiry and find the officials responsible for the nationwide power breakdown that inflicted billions of rupees loss to the national kitty. The president has called a report within a week.

The president issued these orders during a meeting to review the power situation in the country. The meeting held at Aiwan-e-Sadr was attended by Minister for Water and Power Ch Ahmad Mukhtar, Minister for Finance Saleem H Mandviwala, Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain and senior officials of the ministries concerned.

The president took notice of the rumours and speculations that took rounds after the breakdown.

The move is the PPP government’s attempt to run damage control since the party already has invited ample flak over prolonged spells of load shedding.

President Zardari warned the officials concerned that no laxity will be tolerated. He also asked the authorities to ensure availability of funds for the power sector on a priority basis.

Spokesperson to the President, Senator Farhatullah Babar said the president was briefed about the causes of the power breakdown on Sunday night and the steps being taken to avert such situation in the future.

The president was informed that the power failure resulting from a technical fault had been rectified, and on the directives of the prime minister an inquiry committee had been constituted, with Member (Power) Wapda as its convener to determine the causes and fix responsibility for the power failure. He was informed that power supply had completely been restored to the country.

Ch Ahmed Mukhtar briefed the president about the current demand and supply, while Dr Asim Hussain talked about the availability of fuel and gas for electricity generation.

The progress made so far on various ongoing projects in the energy sector, with a special reference to finances involved in their completion, was also taken up.

Meanwhile, the government injected Rs 15 billion into the power sector to improve the power situation in the country, said an official of the Finance Ministry on Tuesday.

He said that the Finance Ministry has released Rs 15 billion to Pepco for onward payment to oil refineries to improve the power situation. The government has released Rs 225 billion power subsidy during July-February period of the ongoing financial year against the allocated subsidy of Rs 185 billion for the entire financial year 2012-13.

Economic experts believe that more subsidies would be required to finance the tariff differential in the remaining four months (March to June) of the ongoing fiscal year. They said that further release of cash to the power sector would lead to a considerable increase in the budget deficit for the current fiscal.

 The government provided an average monthly subsidy of Rs28 billion to the power sector, which was unsustainable. Power subsidies would go to Rs 350 billion if the government continued to release funds at the current pace.