ISLAMABAD - There is no short-term solution to Pakistans power sector crisis and the country will have to focus on multiple options to get out of it under a long-term integrated policy. This would include clearance of circular debt, immediate import of gas and utilisation of Thar Coal for power generation, increased reliance on hydel power, and better management will have to be ensured if a way out of the worrisome situation is desired. These views were expressed by Mirza Hamid Hassan, former secretary Power, in a seminar titled Challenges Facing Pakistans power sector and the way out organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad. Describing the power scenario in coming years as scary, he projected that the gap between supply and demand may go up to 13651 mega watts by 2020 if remedial measures were not taken in time. He was of the view that alternative energy is not a predominant source though it will supplement. Hassan said that power shortages in the country were cyclical, first appearing in the 1970s. Then, the shortage was dealt with by building new hydel and thermal units, but it reappeared in the late eighties. It was mitigated through IPPs in mid manifold as a result of fast paced economic growth while the generation remained stagnant. He also blamed the misguided financial policies for the crisis. Un-planned consumer financing for household items also contributed to the crisis, he added. The noted expert also cited population growth, industrialisation and economic growth, lack of funds in public sector high transmission and distribution losses as major reasons behind the present crisis. A major chunk of transmission and distribution losses is the stolen electricity, he deplored. The participants of the event were in consensus that power sector crisis was basically an issue of good governance and better management. It was also noted that IFIs were no longer interested in financing major power sector projects and tariff issues were blamed for hindering private investments as well. The concern was pointed out that despite being a country with one of the largest reserve of coal, Pakistan was not able to generate power from this imminent source. Referring to the cash-crunch faced by various players of the power sector, A. Rahim Khan, former member of NEPRA, said non revision of tariff in time was the major reason behind the circular debt. Giving his concluding remarks, Fasih Uddin, former Chief Economist, Government of Pakistan emphasised that energy security, along with food security was of critical strategic importance. Policies for the (power) sector should be based on national consensus, he opined.