Debt Inquiry Commission

A media report reveals that Debt Inquiry Commission is submitting its report to the Prime Minister’s office next week. It was also confirmed by Federal Minister for Communication Murad Saeed in a current affairs programme of a Private TV Channel. He also disclosed that inquiry report on IPPs is in final stage. Debt Inquiry Commission has conducted probe against the misappropriation of 420 foreign loans, which were acquired during 2008-18 for 1020 mega projects including big storage dams and hydel power stations thereon, heavy power transmission lines, highways and mass transit projects in urban centers. The report has identified 300 individuals from two dozen government organisations, who have stashed away Rs.450 billion kickbacks to their private accounts. Unfortunately, the elected feudal and mercantile oligarchy that made their way to the corridors of power since 1985 and onwards polluted the political landscape of the country with financial corruption. The investigative reports that appeared in print media and facts sheets, with supportive documents, aired on electronic media were repudiated as fabricated. Enquires and references of National Accountability Bureau were blamed as political engineering to derail the democracy. The well entrenched political culture of kickbacks and misappropriation of foreign loans pushed up the public debt to Rs.30 trillion by the end of tenure PML-N last government. Debt servicing is now top item of public expenditure as 27 percent revenues generated from domestic sources and economic assistance of multilateral donor agencies are allocated in the annual budgets for debt repayment. Budget strategy paper predicts that total public debt, in absolute terms, will swell to 36.7 trillion at the end of current fiscal year and it will soar to 47.6 trillion within next five years, equal to three-fourth of the size of the national economy. Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act 2005 sets maximum limit of public debt 60 percent of gross domestic product. But the law of public debt had been grossly violated. Another most worrying macroeconomic imbalance is the bulging power sector circular debt, which has reached to 1.93 trillion with month-on-month increase of Rs.20 billion. Major contributory factor of this debt is the shady power purchase agreements, which had been made with 9 IPPs in the second tenure of PPP government 1993-96. The clause that binds the government to make payment of 40 percent charges on account of idle capacity of thermal power plants to private electricity producers and indexation of tariff with the US dollar cannot be justified under law of Tort. Every energy sector agreement with local firms and foreign companies include a sunset clause that fixes the expiry period of the deal. For instance, the shady LNG import deal with Qatar, incorporating ‘take or pay clause’ was made for 15 years by the last PML-N government. The power purchase agreements with IPPs seem to have been signed for indefinite period and perhaps granting immunity from the audit of electricity generation cost.