FAISALABAD - Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said yesterday that PML-N government was focusing on low-cost power generation to reduce commodity prices and enhance country's exports.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of 40 megawatts coal-fired power project at Sitara Chemical Industries here, he said previous governments must be held accountable for energy and economic crises that dragged the country into darkness due to which it lost the distinctive status of best economy in South Asia.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said people in the country were in desperate need of electricity. He said he was sure that there will be no more power outages in 2018.

“The government is stabilizing country's economy and improving its infrastructure which is why we have acquired the status of an emerging economy,” he said.

The prime minister said the political instability and inconsistent policies had reasoned the economic crises.

"In 1960 we were ahead of South Korea in development. In 1990, we were the best in the region. In 1999, we were the top economy in South Asia but in 2013, we stood in the last," the prime minister said.

The prime minister said a dictator had ruled the country for seven years before the five-year term by another government.

PM Sharif criticised the former dictator and said, “Musharraf dragged our beloved country into darkness. He must be held accountable for that. He should remember that history will never pardon him.” The prime minister said that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will be made one of the best airlines in the world while the condition of Pakistan Railways was also improving.

Sharif said the attack in Mardan was unfortunate and terrorists were hitting the soft targets in the country which was shameful. "Terrorists cannot survive further. Karachi will regain its lost status as circumstances in the metropolis are improving. We will make Karachi again a city of lights".

"Some two years ago, there was electricity, neither for industrial nor the domestic consumers. There used to be protest demonstrations everywhere against load shedding of up to 12 hours. But today, the industry is being supplied uninterrupted power," he said.

He said the increased revenue could bring in development projects to country, improve health and education sectors, road infrastructure, besides ultimately alleviating poverty and unemployment.

"Now we are heading forward. Work on Lahore-Multan-Sukkur Motorway was underway. Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway was also being constructed. Work on Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway will start by this year's end or early next year. After this, we will be proud to have motorway from Karachi to Peshawar," the prime minister said.

He said the highways and motorways were being constructed in every nook and corner of Balochistan and Hazara Motorway, being built in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, would be completed by next year.

Another motorway between Shorkot and Gojra was under construction, he added. Sharif said in absence of better road infrastructure, the businessmen could not transport their products to local or international markets.

 He said the national economy was in take-off position after the government's successful efforts against terrorism and for economic revival that was also being acknowledged by the international institutions.

He said several power plants were being installed across the country based on hydel, coal, solar and wind resources.

The prime minister said the nationalisation of industries in 1960s was a setback for national economy and assured SCIL to remove all bottlenecks in the operations of the power plant.

He said the coal reservoirs in Thar should have been exploited some five decades ago but the present government had launched work on coal-based power plants.

Sharif said terrorism was not a minor issue rather the officers and the personnel of army, police and security institutions had sacrificed their lives in fighting the menace.

He said government was determined to uplift the living standard of the common man by providing clean drinking water, and extending standard health and education facilities.

The government has already started working on the establishment of another 40 state of the art hospitals across the country, he added.

“To avoid over-billing, the mobile metering of electricity would be expanded countrywide as the same had been introduced in IESCO, KEPCO and FESCO.”

Strict security arrangements were made during the visit of Premier Sharif.

Police said that 2551 policemen and officers were deployed for security. The RPO, CPO and other high ranking police officials were also seen performing duties.

Punjab Governor Malik Rafique Ahmad Rajwana, Federal Minister for Trade and Commerce Khurram Dastgir, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif, Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of State for Power Abid Sher Ali and CEO of Sitara Group Mian Muhammad Idress were also present on the occasion.

The 40MW coal power plant at Sitara Chemical Industries Ltd is the largest of its kind in the industrial sector of Faisalabad.

Sitara Chemical Industries Ltd is the flagship company of Sitara Group.

The prime minister unveiled the plaque of the project that has been completed within 27 months costing Rs 3.5 billion.

The plant's boiler is based on Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion technology having the best automation system.

Continuous emission monitoring system is placed which monitors 24/7 the emission of the gases in the air to protect the environment.

According to a PM House statement, commissioning of 40 megawatts coal-fired power plant is a step towards achieving self-reliance in power generation . Such initiatives by the private sector are extremely encouraging and will prove helpful in overcoming the energy shortage from Pakistan.

The prime minister lauded the services of Chairman Sitara Chemical Industries Mian Idrees in business sector as well as for charity and public welfare, truly following the footprints of latter's father Haji Bashir.

He said it was pleasing the investment was increasing, both in the public and private sectors after the government successfully tackled the challenges of energy crisis and terrorism.

AHMED JAMAL NIZAMI/AGENCIES