Aptma terms delay in textile policy as lack of govt interest

KARACHI (Staff Reporter): A delay in approval of much-awaited textile policy 2014-19 is actually reflecting the lack of interest of the federal government in promoting and protecting the major export-oriented sector. Concern was shown by Tariq Saud, Chairman APTMA Sindh Balochistan region. Tariq Saud said the govt had announced several incentives in the Federal budget 2014-15 such as settlement of outstanding refund claims till 30th September 2014, rationalisation of refund regime, establishment of Exim Bank, reduction in mark-up rate for export refinance, duty free import of textile machinery, etc. but due to undue delay in approval of new textile policy the textile sector is not getting benefits from these schemes.

Tariq Saud recalled that the previous government had allocated Rs 180 billion in Textile Policy 2009-14 whereas it disbursed only Rs 28 billion which is only 15pc of the total allocation. India and Bangladesh had registered a growth of 94pc and 160pc respectively in export during the period 2008-13 due to the lucrative schemes in their Textile Policy against merely 22pc of Pakistan during 2009-14, he added.

He further said that the unrealistic delay by the Ministry of Textile Industry in the announcement of Textile Policy 2014-19 has already left Pakistan far behind against the regional competitors.

He urged the government to announce the Textile Policy 2014-19 without any further delay and take care of implementation of all incentives as mentioned.

Govt urged to expedite efforts

for resolving issue of energy shortage

LAHORE (APP): Welcoming the 100 basis points cut in the discount rate by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Progressive Group, a representative platform of traders and businessmen, has urged the government to pay attention towards other issues hindering the growth of industrial sector and expansion of business activities in the country. It urged the rulers to expedite the efforts for resolving the issues of power and gas shortage. Progressive Group President Khalid Usman and Secretary Information Muhammad Ejaz Tanveer, in a statement issued here on Wednesday, said  electricity and gas outages were still hampering the industrial production and business activities in the country.

They said that the business community always direly needs loans on lower rates for setting up new industries or expansion of their business and reduction in markup rate would ensure decrease in their financial issues to a larger extent. They said that setting up of new industries or expansion in business activities as a result of lowering markup rate would create new job opportunities as well as enhance the government revenue resolving the financial hardships being faced by the state.

However, they stated that expansion can only be ensured or investment could only be attracted from abroad or inside the country if other issues are resolved amicably. They said it is the duty of the government to provide an enabling environment to the investors and businessmen so as to accelerate economic activities which would ultimately result in generation of more revenue for the government providing it room to spend more on development side.

They said that business community is committed to support all government efforts for boosting the national economy and expect that the government would reciprocate with same spirit.

SBP revises microfinance credit guarantee facility guidelines

KARACHI (Staff Reporter): State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued revised Microfinance Credit Guarantee Facility (MCGF) Guidelines offering higher risk coverage of up to 60 per cent to commercial banks/ development finance institutions (DFIs) for lending to smaller microfinance banks (MFBs)/microfinance institutions (MFIs).  The facility is expected to graduate smaller MFBs/ MFIs to avail credit lines from commercial banks/ DFIs for onward lending to microfinance clients.  It may be recalled that the Microfinance Credit Guarantee Facility is a credit enhancement facility to attract market-based and long-term finance for microfinance institutions.

MCGF was launched by the State Bank in December 2008 with £15 million funding support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) under the Financial Inclusion Program (FIP) which is being implemented by SBP.

The facility is focused on market development and has been instrumental in resolving the funding constraints of the microfinance sector in Pakistan. So far, 6 large MFBs/MFIs have completed 38 transaction with commercial banks and capital markets/retail investors mobilizing Rs.12.825 billion for onward lending to around 650,000 micro borrowers. This has significantly helped in reducing the risk perception of banks towards the microfinance sector, thus introducing poor borrowers to mainstream financial institutions.

Jiangsu Chamber team visits PBIT

LAHORE (APP): A Chinese delegation comprising Chairman, General Secretary and members of Jiangsu Chamber of Commerce, China visited the office of Punjab Board of Investment & Trade (PBIT). The delegation was welcomed by the Director General Projects, PBIT Ms Lubna Pathan and her team. They were given a brief presentation about PBIT by Director, PBIT Ms Tayyaba Kamal. Main purpose of the visit was to exchange ideas and identify areas of collaboration. DG Projects proposed that China can collaborate with Punjab in the education sector including vocational training, seminars, workshops and technical education.

The delegation was also informed about the opportunities in the infrastructure sector including real estate and housing. Director Projects updated the participants regarding various opportunities in the agriculture sector ensuring complete facilitation to the potential Chinese stakeholders. The delegation was impressed with the working of PBIT and expressed a keen desire to return with a bigger delegation comprising relevant business persons to follow up on the initiatives discussed in the near future.

Nepra determines upfront solar tariff

ISLAMABAD (APP): In a landmark decision, the NEPRA has determined and approved the upfront tariff and adjustments/indexation for solar power generation for delivery of electricity to the power purchaser based on solar PV power plants. This determination was given in accordance with Section 31 Sub Section(4) of the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act, 1997 read with Regulation 3 of the Upfront Tariff (Approval & Procedure) Regulations, 2011 (vide S.R.O. 757(1) 2011). An applicant can opt for the Upfront Generation Tariff for Solar PV Power Plant once notified in the Official gazette pursuant to section 31(4) of the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act, 1997(XL of 1997.

The tariff of solar power is to reduce over time and it would provide energy security in the country in addition to diversification in generation. Solar power would facilitate the economy and industry of Pakistan due to its unique benefits and competitiveness. The solar energy is clean, environment friendly and renewable and also provides benefit of carbon credits.

The overall cost of project and generation cost is very much competitive. The per MW cost of solar power although higher in the beginning but subsequent decline in cost makes it financially viable solution in the medium term. Its installation is easy and quick and can play an important role for overcoming energy crisis. Low operation and maintenance cost of solar power project is an added advantage. It would mean less reliance on external imports of fossil fuel or no worry of depletion of indigenous natural resources likes gas.

Subsequently as the next stage after introduction of off grid solution solar panels can be provided to remote areas. In Pakistan connecting far off villages to the national grid would be very costly, thus giving each house a solar panel would be cost efficient and would save investment in transmission lines and transmission losses.

Many countries USA, Germany, Australia, Brazil, UK, Japan, India, China and Thailand are now generating electricity in bulk through solar system.

Pakistan receives one of the best solar irradiation in the world and has a potential to generate over 2.324 million megawatts electricity per annum through solar thermal and photovoltaic systems but this potential is yet to be tapped.

Solar irradiation in Pakistan and India stand at 1,900 (kWh/m2), against China’s 1,500 and Germany’s 1,200. India has already installed solar power projects having 3,000 MW capacity, China 22,000 MW and Germany succeeded in installing 38,000MW of solar power generation capacity. The determination of upfront tariff is a step by NEPRA indeed in the right direction. Net metering is also being envisaged by NEPRA as the next step after inputs, comments and recommendations are received from stakeholders. Once the regulations are notified, every household at three phase, 400 volts would be able to offer surplus electricity to the distribution companies for sale.

The cost of the installation of the solar panels can be recovered in four years according to estimates and consumers would get cleaner energy on cheaper costs.

It is also relevant to note here that NEPRA takes all major decisions going through a threadbare mechanism of Public Hearing which is open not only for general public and stakeholders but also for the independent and highly vibrant media.

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) is fully cognizant of larger public interest and is committed to strike a balance between stakeholders’ interests and consumer protection as its prime objective.   As an autonomous regulator of the energy sector the authority has to take into account the interest of all the stakeholders though the general consumer protection remains the main priority of the regulator.