ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Monday said end of power shortages was essential for realising the huge economic potential of the country.

He said the tireless efforts of his government were not restricted to end power shortages from the country by 2018 as their long-term plans included production of more than 30,000MW electricity by 2022.

The prime minister was addressing a meeting to review progress on various energy related projects here at PM House.

“Never in the history of Pakistan have there been such huge investments made for production of electricity; aiming to fulfil our needs and also cater for the projected demands in the future,” a statement from the PM House quoted the prime minister as saying.

He regretted that the issue was ignored by the successive governments in last 15 years. He said increased power generation would substantially contribute towards economic growth and increased industrial activities.

The PM said he was personally monitoring the progress on the ongoing power projects across the country to ensure their timely completion. “Our energy plan is the centrepiece of our economic vision and no laxity in the execution and completion of energy projects could be tolerated,” he said.

The meeting was briefed on the capacity and timeline for completion of various power projects. It was informed that around 10,996MW of power would be added to the national grid by March 2018 against an expected generation shortfall of 7000 to 8000MW, estimated for 2017-18. This significant addition would eliminate loadshedding from the country.

The meeting was also told that work on improving the transmission system was going on in all parts of the country, which was being closely monitored by the Ministry of Water and Power.

The system augmentation work for carrying the additional capacity will be completed by the end of 2017, which will make the country’s 90 percent transmission system constraint-free.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Panning, Development & Reform Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Water & Power Minister Khawaja Asif, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, SAPM Tariq Fatemi and other senior officials of the government.

Separately, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Monday directed setting up of industrial zones at sites that were economically feasibile and viabile for maximum economic returns and benefits both for China and Pakistan.

Chairing a meeting to review progress on different projects under the umbrella of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) here at the PM House, the prime minister directed the formation of a committee to suggest and advise the Chinese government on the economic practicability and benefits of these sites.

He said China helped Pakistan a great deal in the economic revival at a crucial juncture for which the government and people of Pakistan were grateful to the Chinese leadership and people.

The PM directed Minister Ahsan Iqbal to consult all the chief ministers for finalisation of industrial zones’ locations in their respective provinces.

The meeting reviewed the benchmarks set for numerous energy, transport infrastructure and industrial projects with particular focus on development and socio-economic uplift projects in Gwadar.

The PM was briefed on the tentative agenda items for the upcoming meeting of China and Pakistan’s Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC).

Explaining the procedures for inclusion of a project in CPEC, the meeting was informed that approval by the concerned working group was a must before it was finally approved by JCC.

The prime minister directed that Karachi Circular Railways and Keti Bunder Port project must be taken up in the next JCC for inclusion in CPEC, as conveyed by the Sindh government.

He said the Chinese government should be briefed on the immense economic viability of these projects so that they were included in CPEC.

Meeting with Chinese minister

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked the Chinese businessmen to take advantage of the enormous potential of investment in Pakistan, as he also expressed satisfaction over the growth of bilateral trade between China and Pakistan.

He was talking to Zheng Xiaosong, Vice Minister of International Department of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China, who called on him at the PM House.

Welcoming the vice minister, the prime minister said Pakistan and China were close friends, neighbours and partners.

The PM expressed the hope that Zheng’s visit would further strengthen the warm and friendly relations between the two countries.

“The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its related projects symbolise the people-centric approach of the two countries. The project has certainly transformed the friendly relations between the two countries into a strong economic partnership,” PM Nawaz said.

He added, “We have raised Special Security Division (SSD), comprising 15,000 military and civilian armed forces for ensuring safety of our Chinese brothers working on different projects under the CPEC.”

The PM underlined that the benefits of Free Trade Agreement were visible in growing bilateral trade, which crossed the figure of $18 billion this year.  The enormous potential of trade between China and Pakistan will further enhance the quantum of bilateral trade, he added.

Zheng Xiaosong said his country was satisfied with the pace of work on various projects under the CPEC.

“Mr Prime Minister! You are a household name in China. China-Pakistan friendship has entered into a new phase during the present government in Pakistan,” he remarked.

The vice minister said that alongside the rapidly improving relations between China and Pakistan, the relations between the Communist Party of China and the PML-N were also fast increasing.

“We need to continue the high-level exchanges between our two countries and political parties,” he said.

Zheng Xiaosong said the role of Communist Party in the development of China was exemplary and presently it had 8.9 million members.

“We will be looking forward to welcoming PML-N delegation in China next year. We will be happy if you include your talented daughter Maryum Nawaz in the visiting delegation,” Zheng said.