State Actors and Electricity Production

With a title like that, how can this post not be interesting? Three of your Smoke-Filled Roomers are in South Asia this month, so we are thinking more acutely than usual about (the insufficiency of) electricity production in India and Pakistan. I stumbled recently across this quote about the Pakistani electricity crisis (from this book, p. 342.):

“A key element of the [electricity] management crisis is ‘circular debt’–meaning the non-payment of electricity bills by the military and various government departments to other government departments. This means electricity producers are not paid on time and hence cannot import fuel oil. Their expensive imported [power] plants stand idle; capacity goes to waste.”

I have no clue if this is a problem in India, though I know Arun Shourie has a long section in his book, Governance, about all of the lawsuits and countersuits various Indian government ministries are litigating against one another on non-electricity matters, many pertaining to the non-payment of fees and bills.

Luckily, I am an international relations scholar, so all of my states are unitary actors, because this greatly simplifies my modeling assumptions. Sadly for South Asian consumers of electricity, they do not live in that world.

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One thought on “State Actors and Electricity Production

  1. You may not be in the clear as an IR scholar. Would this have any impact on the use of logged energy usage as a proxy for development? If Pakistan is using electricity in this way, wouldn’t such a measure overestimate their degree of economic development?

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