ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet decided to extend the financial close of the 660 kilovolt high-voltage direct current (HVDC) Matiari-Lahore transmission line by seven months till the 1st of December, 2018. The extension means that the project—initially slated to become operational in September 2017—now faces a three year delay, ostensibly to align it with the coal-fired projects under development in Thar and near Karachi. The project is also plagued by squabbling over wheeling charges and tax concessions, and the initial cost of the project has now risen from US$1.5 billion to US$1.7 billion. The Chinese companies China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Limited (CET) of State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) are executing the project. Moreover, the ECC also borrowed Rs 100 billion from commercial banks to ease the circular debt that had started creeping up a mere month before Ramazan. This is the second time in the past one month that the government has been forced to resort to commercial borrowing to improve the circular debt, which is estimated to have crossed Rs 1 trillion.