ISLAMABAD - Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) on Sunday expressed serious concern over escalating power sector circular debt, which, she said, had crossed Rs684 billion for the first time in history.

“In 2012, the PPP government had blamed high oil prices for the circular debt, which were around $109 per barrel, while in 2013 the PML-N led government paid Rs480 billion to claim that the circular debt had been buried forever,” said IWCCI Standing Committee on Trade and Industry Chairperson Tabassum Anwar. “However, both the claims have proven false as the debt has resurfaced despite the oil prices hovering around $45 per barrel,” she added.

She said that the debt despite low oil prices was the result of mismanagement, which had become a threat to local and foreign investment in the power sector, hence compromising the GDP growth. Tabassum also expressed concern over falling remittances, which had registered a fall of 20 percent in July.

She said that remittances from Saudi Arabia might fall by $2 billion; from $six billion to $ 4b as hundreds and thousands of workers had been fired there. “Remittances from UK have also come down by 38 percent due to Brexit while the remittances from USA have also dropped by 34 percent,” she said, and added, “But the policymakers are not concerned.”

She said that Pakistani exports stood at $2.1 billion in July 2013, which were now down to $1.5 billion; the foreign investment was $4.4b at that time, which had now come down to $959 million; recording a fall of 77 percent, and thus contradicting tall claims of the policymakers.

Tabassum further said that the country’s liabilities stood at Rs19.8 trillion in 2015, which are now above Rs22.4 trillion; meaning thereby that $26 billion had been added to repayment mechanism which will be a problem for the govt.