UDAY Power Debt in Retrospect and Prospects: Analyzing the Efficiency Parameters

Nice and important paper in terms of figuring finances of India’s States. It is written by Amandeep Kaur and Lekha Chakraborty of NIPFP:

The Government of India launched the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY), in November 2015, with an objective of “Power for All”. Under the UDAY
scheme, selected States agreed to convert 75 per cent of the DISCOM’s (State Power Distribution Companies) power debt into State government non-SLR bonds, priced at not more than 75 basis points above the prevailing cut-off yield rate of government security of 10-year maturity. At aggregate level, so far, around 86 per cent of  UDAY bonds have been issued – Rs. 2.32 lakh crores out of Rs. 2.69 lakh crores – across all UDAY States/UTs.

Our estimates reveal that the financial and operational efficiency parameters envisaged in UDAY tripartite MoUs – between DISCOMs, the
State Governments and the Ministry of Power, Government of India – have not been met by many States. Using UDAY portal data, we find that the average AT&C (Aggregate Technical and Commercial) losses that should have been 15% for all the participating states by 2018-19, presently, on average, stand at 25.41%. Yet another financial indicator, ACS-ARR gap (the gap between Average Cost and Average Revenue) has also widened for many UDAY participating states. The power tariff revisions have also not been implemented in the States -due to political economy reasons – and the operational parameters in our analysis indicate widening inefficiencies across States in power infrastructure.

Only a few states are doing their bit:

Using the UDAY portal data, the analysis revealed that it is crucial to move beyond the “fallacy of aggregation” of UDAY indicators and focus on the financial
and operational efficiency parameters of lagging states in meeting the UDAY targets. Our analysis based on the state-specific file sheets – StateHealth Cards – given in the state-wise dashboards, suggests that there are serious concerns in making the DISCOMs sustainable. We find that Gujarat, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Telangana are the only States that have been performing well on majority of the financial and operational parameters of UDAY scheme.

As per the recent estimates based on the UDAY portal data accessed on October 2018, we find that financial and operational parameters of power infrastructure for majority of the States in India have shown a dismal picture and in turn raise questions about the efficacy of the UDAY scheme in materializing a turnaround in power sector.

Familiar story whenever we look at disaggregate picture..

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