ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has called upon the government to take business community on board before finalizing the National Energy Policy 2013-18.

Zafar Bakhtawari, President ICCI said that energy shortage is a very complicated and the most serious issue of the country that has badly affected trade, industry and the overall economy and government should consult all important stakeholders to develop a consensus and implementable energy policy.

He said the new energy policy has set targets of ending the growing electricity supply gap and changing energy mix to cut costs during a period of four to five years, which appear too ambitious to achieve. Achieving these targets also needs massive investment of $25-30 billion and government should go for developing a public-private partnership as it will not be possible to end supply gap or change the energy mix without huge investment.

Zafar Bakhtawari said the new energy policy should focus on exploitation of indigenous energy sources like hydro and coal as enhancing share of these sources in energy mix would produce cheap energy and help in reducing the cost of doing business Pakistan.

He appreciated the government move to privatize power generation and distribution companies as it will bring improvement in their working. He said deregulation of telecom and banking sectors yielded huge benefits for the country as it brought new investment and created plenty of jobs. He anticipated that privatising power sector would also create a healthy competition and reduce power tariffs.

ICCI President also lauded government crackdown against electricity and gas theft and urged that government should take stern action against those who are damaging the economy by pilfering electricity and gas. He also stressed for encouraging energy efficiency in new policy as Pakistan can increase available power by up to 20pc by plugging leaks.

 APP adds: Meanwhile, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali has said that government will introduce subsidized tariff for electricity users consuming up to 250 units per month to provide relief to the poor.

In an interview, the minister said PM will soon announce the energy policy, a private news channel reported. He said PML-N government’s priority is to end power theft and ensure its smooth supply to public and industry. He said the PM will soon inaugurate a new 5000MW electricity project in Gadani.

Abid Sher Ali said the government will not tolerate any institutional corruption and operation against culprits involved in energy theft will be accelerated. He claimed 70 percent crisis would be overcome if government minimizes the line losses.