SHANGHAI - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said his pro-business and investment friendly government would welcome the Chinese investment in energy sector of Pakistan to help the country cope with acute power shortage.

Travelling from Beijing to Shanghai on high speed train, the prime minister on Saturday held four meetings with different business delegates and later he addressed Pakistan-China Energy Forum in Shanghai which was attended by over 50 prominent Chinese investors.

Nawaz said resolution of energy issues was the top priority of his government and they would welcome all the Chinese and foreign investment in this regard. He said that Pakistan desired to generate maximum chunk of power through coal for permanent deliverance from load-shedding.

He told the Energy Forum that he was leading the government to pull the country out of the economic meltdown and expressed the resolve to eliminate all the bottlenecks to investment in energy sector. He expressed the hope that Chinese investment in this sector would take the lead.

The PM said under Pak-China Trade Cooperation Pact, both the countries were cooperating for execution of 36 projects in different sectors during second five-year phase. He expressed satisfaction that earlier, the first five years agreement was a success of close cooperation.

Nawaz said it was a source of immense pleasure for him to be among the investors and energy experts from China and Pakistan. He said, “I have chosen China as my first destination after assuming office of the prime minister last month. I did so as we have unmatched and special friendship, which is time tested.”

The bonds of friendship have stood the test of times and irrespective of the political changes, Pakistan and China relationship has been steady and strong. “Truly we are Iron Brothers as Premier Li has remarked during his visit to Islamabad,” the Nawaz recollected. “Stage is set for new chapter and story of glorious friendship, which is also collective wish of the leadership of both countries,” he commented.

Talking about the revival of Pakistan’s economy, he said the energy crunch had been the greatest impediment in country’s economic recovery. “This is daunting because of multiple challenges faced by the country today and with a friend like China, we are confident that we would be able to surmount all this,” he added.

Nawaz informed the Forum that energy security had been the part of his party’s manifesto, and they were striving hard to implement it. He said the government is already implementing an energy roadmap. Although the short term policies would provide temporary relief but they were focusing primarily on long term strategies, he added.

Inviting the Chinese investors to invest in hydroelectric power projects, the prime minister pointed out that Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project was being executed by a Chinese company. The project has the capacity of generating 696 megawatt of power that would be completed by 2015. “If needed, we will slash our non-development expenditures to accelerate the project completion,” he said.

Referring to three more power projects in Karot, Kohala and Taunsa being executed by China’s Three Gorges Corporation, the PM said these would add 2,000MW to national grid. He said his government looked forward to Chinese investment in renewable energy sector, particularly wind and solar, with the country having accumulated potential of 60,000MW.

Nawaz said Pakistan was blessed with abundant solar light and strong wind, adding that Three Gorges Corporation was already engaged in a windpower project in Jhampir area. He said that put together, other hydropower projects including Diamer Bhasha and Bunji power projects would generate more than 7,000MW.

The prime minister said Pakistan was also rich of coal reservoirs of 185 billion tonnes having capacity to generate 100,000MW for 300 years. The quality of the coal, he said, has been certified internationally and major chunk of it has been found in Thar. He said his government strongly encouraged investment in alternate energy sector and Alternate Energy Development Board would provide updated guidelines to the Chinese investors.

Nawaz said Chinese financial institutions were also investing in Pakistan and in banking sector, they have recently agreed upon currency swap programme. He also insisted upon more free trade through sustained institutional mechanism to stimulate growth, development and enhanced connectivity. Later, the prime minister responded to various questions and assured the investors of government’s all out support for setting up energy projects in Pakistan. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also addressed the Energy Forum.

While on way to Shanghai, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with four different business delegates and discussed with them the power and infrastructure projects. In his meeting with China Machinery Engineering Corporation Vice President Jin Chunsheng, Jin told the prime minister that his company had long been engaged in power sector of Pakistan and was currently working on a power project in Jamshoro. Jin Chunsheng said his company was capable to manufacture coal turbines with a capacity to generate up to 1,000 megawatts. The prime minister expressed desire to run the furnace oil-fired power generation units through coal.

During a meeting with Huawei Technology Limited Vice President Tang Qibing, The PM

During a meeting with Huawei Technology Limited Vice President Tang Qibing, the PM urged him to establish a research centre in Pakistan to equip the youth with latest techniques and trends in information technology. He told him that a large number of youngsters in Pakistan were working in the IT sector.

Tang Qibing said his company had launched its business activity from Pakistan some 19 years ago and has now established its offices in four countries. He told the prime minister that Huawei was already engaged in different telecommunication projects with Mobilink and Ufone. However, he expressed interest in Pak-China Optic Fiber project and briefed the prime minister about the cost estimates of the work.

Huawei’s vice president said his company had recently extended education grant to two Pakistani universities – University of Engineering and Technology and National University of Science and Technology. He said his company can go into manufacturing sector in Pakistan provided the government facilitates them regarding customs duty and taxes. He lauded Nawaz Sharif’s trader-friendly policies and opined that it would help bring economic progress and create employment opportunities in the country.