SUNDAY TIMES ISLAMABAD: The energy minister was appeared before a three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar in the suo moto hearing of the case pertaining to excessive payments made to independent power producers by the government.

The Chief Justice asked the minister how these agreements were made. The government have to pay them whether they generate power or not, the top judge remarked.

“How much money paid to them so far?” the chief justice asked. The money is being taken from the poor to pay the rich,” he said.

The energy minister responded that the agreements with these companies were signed during the tenures of various governments.

“The power generation reduces in winter due to lesser demand”, the minister said. The government has an agreement of electricity units purchase with private power companies, the minister added.

In the previous hearing the case, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, a member of the bench, quoted a report as saying that IPPs were paid Rs159 million each and questioned if the power producers were paid as per their power generation capacity.

The secretary power division, who was present in the court, explained that the IPPs were paid as per their capacity and fuel consumption.

“They are paid as per their capacity regardless of whether they generate electricity or not.”

“Millions of rupees were paid to IPPs even if they produced electricity or not,” Justice Nisar remarked.

“Such agreements are being cancelled the world over,” he added.

“People didn’t get electricity but private companies were made full payments. Nothing was obtained by paying billions of rupees to private companies,” he continued.

“We are sending this matter to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB),” the top judge added.

“Agreements with IPPs have become a noose around our necks. We don’t know who those people were who made these agreements. Whether electricity was provided or not, money was given,” CJP Nisar observed.

“The circular debt rose to millions and billions. Neither people nor industries got electricity but IPPs kept getting money,” he added.

The Supreme Court took a suo moto notice over excessive payments made to IPPs in connection with the circular debt.