LAHORE - The business community has asked the caretaker government to encourage private sector investment in coal gasification projects that offer one of the most versatile and clean way to produce electricity.

They said that 175 billion tones of Thar coal reserves could provide guaranteed long-term energy security to Pakistan. They said that several thousand megawatts energy was being derived in Russia, Central Asian States, Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, China and South Africa from Underground Coal Gasification.

They said that in view of the power generation and energy demand, rich coal reserves of Thar not only promise energy independence for Pakistan but also offer lots of opportunities for prospective investors.

They said that the current energy crisis was causing losses of Rs230 billion and 400,000 jobs every year. They said it was a matter of concern that industrial units were being shifted to the other countries. “Capital flight could lead further economic aggravation”, they added. They said that coal gasification offers the most effective solution to the electricity shortage that has jolted the economic base of the country.

The LCCI president Farooq Iftikhar said that it was unfair on the part of the government as the Province of Punjab was being subjected to over longer hours power cuts than the other provinces. He said that the private sector is engine of the growth but it would be unable to give results if it would not be provided with an enabling environment.  “How the FBR would be able to meet its revenue target when the industrial wheel is not running properly.” He said that the government should understand unemployment and industrial closures always give birth to lawlessness. Therefore, the government should reset its priorities regarding provision of electricity to the industry. He said that Pakistan had already lost a number of global markets because of an acute gas and electricity shortage.