ISLAMABAD / LAHORE   -   The office bearers of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) have said that Pakistan was generating 60 percent electricity from expensive thermal fuels which was the major cause of rising circular debt and called upon the government to focus on indigenous energy sources including hydro, wind and solar to cope with circular debt issue.

In a joint statement issued here on Saturday, President ICCI Ahmed Hassan Moughal, Senior Vice President Rafat Farid and Vice President Iftikhar Anwar Sethi said that Pakistan was meeting 70 percent of its oil needs through imported oil due to which the country’s oil import bill during the first 8 months of current financial year has increased to $9.61 billion which was 6.7 percent more as compared to same period of last year.

They said that cost of thermal power was very high due to which cost of doing business in Pakistan has increased manifold. Pakistan intensely needs to increase trade and exports to cope with its rising fiscal deficit for which availability of cheap energy was basic requirement to reduce production cost, they added.

Ahmed Hassan Moughal said that due to falling value of rupee, cost of oil import would increase significantly that would further complicate circular debt issue. Therefore, it was important for Pakistan to minimize its reliance on imported oil for power generation and focus on indigenous energy sources. He said that government has announced to bring down circular debt to zero level by December 2020 and added that materializing this goal would be a big achievement for it.

The ICCI president said that power theft was also one of the causes of rising circular debt as it was increasing the losses of power companies due to which they were unable to clear their oil payment obligations. He stressed that government should launch a strong campaign against power theft and enhance the use of technology to cope with this issue that will reduce the losses power companies and resolve circular debt issue more smoothly.

Meanwhile, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has stressed the need of shifting from fossil fuel to environment friendly renewable ones.

LCCI President Almas Hyder said that renewable energy resources were not in common use due to lack of awareness amongst the masses. He said that renewable energy resources should be kept within the reach of people by reduction on duties and taxes on the equipment used for this purpose.

Almas Hyder said that fossil fuels were becoming too expensive, anti-environment and would eventually dwindle. Renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind, would never run out, he said. He said that Pakistan relies heavily on fossil fuels to meet energy requirements and country was spending billions of dollars on import of petroleum products every year. He said that Pakistan was blessed with all kinds of resources that were being used around the world as energy inputs. He narrated the potentials available in Pakistan in the form of wind, solar, and bio-gas. Similarly, intelligent financing tools should be worked out because initial cost of installing solar panels, bio-gas plants or other resources was relatively higher for common citizens. Global successful experience and knowledge of implementing green technologies could be used to develop a sustainable civic and industrial infrastructure and realize rapid economic growth. He said that related government departments should work for utilization of indigenous resources for the development and promotion of Industrial sector leading to import substitution and export enhancement.

LCCI Senior Vice President Khawaja Shahzad Nasir and Vice President Faheem-ur-Rehman Saigal said the business community was keen on acquiring economical and reliable alternative energy solutions to sustain their operations.

They said that a wide range of green technologies were available in the world for power generation, biogas and biofuels production, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and enhancing productivity and production in a sustainable and environment friendly manner. They said that alternate energy options should be exploited on war-footing. They said that a substantial investment and policy support was needed for a successful energy transition to renewable.