LAHOE - In his inaugural speech at the 2nd National Energy Conference, held in Lahore on Monday, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif presented a comprehensive roadmap for overcoming the current energy crisis in Pakistan.
The CM said that Punjab fulfilled its responsibilities according to the policy formulated at the national energy conference held in Islamabad two years ago, for overcoming power crisis, but the issue of circular debt had still not been resolved and the debt had now reached a staggering figure of more than 400 billion rupees. He lamented that if efforts were not made in the right direction, the country will not be able to come out of this vicious circle. He said that only conferences and seminars are not the solution to this serious issue.
The Chief Minister told the attendees that Punjab’s payment ratio was much better than any other province, suffering 11 per cent line losses while the recovery rate is 99.8 per cent. He said that people of Punjab were paying their dues but they were bearing the brunt of being part of a system which favours thieves and defaulters.
He said that out of the total outstanding amount, Punjab owned a sum of Rs4.5 billion which is only 1.5 per cent of the total amount and it too will be paid within the next one and a half month. He said that federal government institutions and other provinces should also pay their outstanding dues as early as possible.
The CM said that Punjab government had presented its proposals in the energy conference arranged in Islamabad and important decisions were taken but the federal government had failed to implement them. He said had these decisions been implemented Pakistan would not have been facing the crisis .
While presenting his recommendations for controlling power and gas shortages, Shahbaz Sharif demanded that the quarterly schedule of gas and power outages should be announced and unscheduled load-shedding be checked. He said that there should be a uniform policy of load-shedding in all areas of the country. He added that the supply of gas to power sector, be increased and the plants showing better performance be given preference in fuel supply.
Referring to the short and medium term measures in energy sector, the chief minister proposed that one window facility be provided at Prime Minister’s Secretariat for fast track energy projects and a senior energy advisor be appointed to maintain coordination with all federal and provincial institutions, public sector enterprises and IPPs.
He further proposed that DESCOs be privatised to improve efficiency and eliminate corruption. He said that incentives should be given on better recovery and timely payments should be made to JENCOs. He further said that an institution should be established for regulating energy sector and 30 per cent of public sector development funds should be allocated for the energy sector.
Shahbaz said that full benefit should be taken from alternative power sources, including biogas and solar energy, along with coal, bagasse and hydel power . Moreover, assistance should be extended to the Sindh government for generation of power from Thar coal.
He added that sincere efforts should be made for the import of electricity from Iran through land routes. Shahbaz Sharif stressed the need for taking practicable, effective and consolidated measures as well as introducing meaningful reforms to overcome the energy crisis . He said that comprehensive reforms will have to be introduced in the country like those of China, Taiwan, Turkey and South Korea.  The CM said that 900 megawatts of energy could have been produced from Chichoki Maliyan and Nandipur hydel power stations, but the Law Ministry did not accept the sovereign guarantee due to which the Chinese company backed out.
He said that it was decided in the last energy conference that export of energy from the grid of National Transmission and Dispatch Company will be reduced, but the company had made an agreement to export 650 megawatt electricity daily for the next five years. Similarly, it was decided that 183 million cubic feet gas will be supplied to the energy sector, but the decision had not been implemented.
He said that history will not forgive the rulers if sincere efforts were not made for the development of power sector, which is associated with economic progress of the country.