GOVERNMENT meagre allocation of Rs 36.136 billion for power development across the country is, in fact, a peanut and shows rulers seriousness in solving grave energy crisis while government avoided to take serious steps in building mega power project despite slow down economic activities in the country and suicide attempts of millers and workers. These views were expressed by Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Acting President Sheikh Arshad while talking exclusively to daily The Nation here at his LCCI office. He said that the government had allocated just Rs 36.136 billion for the Water and Power Division development in the total budget of Rs 730 billion of ADPs. He said that the business community was expecting colossal allocations for power sector uplifting in ADPs. But, unfortunately, government had set aside only Rs 36.136 for the completion of already in process projects, ignoring the urgent need of resolving energy crisis. He said that it was need of the hour that government should have taken strong steps in dragging the country out of the energy crisis but, unluckily, it seems that government is not handling the ever-worsening issue seriously. He said that the government had shown no wisdom, ignoring initiation of new projects in the energy sector development. Out of total ADPs funds, he said, the government had allocated only Rs36 billion for power generation, transmission, distribution and conservation and out of which Rs18 billion would be spent on the Diamer-Bhasha Dam and Rs10.8 billion on the Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Project, Sheikh Arshad revealed. He further said that the energy sector development needed to be allocated extraordinary funds as it was directly related to the revival of countrys fragile economy. It is not known as to what has prevented the rulers to take up the issue seriously, he questioned. He said that it was governments insane decision to abolish Regulatory Duty on 392 luxury items as this amount could be used to start new mega power projects. He was of the view that government has shelved taxes on these luxury items just to please rich class of the country to protect their interests. He said that rich community usually used to import food items including pizzas, cheese and food for their pet animals along with cosmetic items on exorbitant prices. He opined that these extravagance items are being imported only by effluent people while poor people have nothing to do with these stuffs, he added. He blamed that government, on the instructions of IMF, has reduced the total amount of subsidies for Wapda to Rs 122 billion from Rs 250 billion in current fiscal budget paving way for electricity tariff to swell more, he said adding that after implementing IMF dictation, government is going to increase 2 per cent power tariff consecutively on every month. He claimed that with this increase, electricity rates would go beyond Rs 20 per unit one day while on the other hand wheel of countrys economy would further slow down and eventually stop within a course of time. The Acting President Sheikh Arshad further said that the subsidy of Rs 122 billion would not serve the purpose of providing people with cheaper electricity as the government had planned to spend most of the subsidy to cover the losses of different DISCOs across the country. He revealed that there are total eight DISCOs in the country wherein five falls in Punjab province while rest of three falls in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtukhwa apiece. He said it would be amazing to note that the losses of four out of five DISCOs in the Punjab are less than 10 per cent while Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) record of recovery is surprisingly near to 96 per cent. Rest of Discos incur over 40 per cent line losses, he said adding that Mepco is the sole Disco that shows maximum line losses in the country. He said that total subsidy of Rs 122 billion is planned to be spent to cover the losses of these DISCOs irrespective of their performances. He was of the view that government should allocate subsidies to all eight DISCOs according to their actual needs and their performance should be monitored strictly so that pilferage of electricity could be minimise in these DISCOs that might make Wapda a financially healthy and strong. While commenting on the allocation of Rs 24 billion to the KESC as for subsidy, he said that a large chunk of total subsidy was given to KESC to compensate Wapdas losses for providing KESC cheaper electricity at Rs 7 per unit during the last fiscal year. He claimed that government has increased the amount of subsidy to KSE up to Rs 39 billion rather than to reduce it at a time when government has revoked all subsidies and tax exemptions on almost all kitchen items, he added. He further said that KESC is being given additional electricity at lowest rates. To compensate the additional power losses of Rs 2 per unit, a lion share of Rs 122 billion is planned to be spent on KESC, depriving the other DISCOs of their right shares in total subsidy. In this regard, he appealed to government to revamp the subsidy system by allocating amount of subsidies for all eight Discos separately and proposed that subsidy amount of Rs 122 should not be handed over to Pepco for distribution amongst DISCOs. He further suggested that Federal government should attach subsidy issue with NFC award in future so that its distribution formula could be evolved amicably. The LCCI Acting President Sheikh Arshad revealed that natural gas is very important means of energy. The lions share about 70 per cent of natural gas is being supplied by Sindh while we are getting 17 per cent from Balochistan and 5-6 per cent from KP while Punjab has had no natural gas reservoirs. He also informed that there is no natural gas in whole India and imported LNG is being used across India. If India and other Gulf and European countries can use LNG domestically and in industry, why people of Pakistan cannot adopt this system, he questioned. He was of the view that Our natural gas reservoirs are going to be diminished within next 10 years as with the passage of time demand of energy is increasing manifold. That is why, he stressed, we should materialise our deals with Iran as soon as possible. Besides this, he said, we should also materialise the mega gas pipeline project of TAPI within a short span of time so that countrys energy demands could be met according to its requirement. He claimed that though Pakistan has very limited resources but still it has worlds largest natural gas pipeline network. He said even most advanced countries including France, Italy, Germany, Canada and America havent pipeline network like us but unfortunately we are not using this network up to its optimum. He further suggested that we should import LNG from Qatar by installing a plant at our Karachi harbor that could change liquefied gas into vapour form for domestic as well as industrial useage, he concluded.