ISLAMABAD  - Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf urged the ministries of petroleum, finance and water and power to work together and ensure that gap between demand and supply of power is minimised.

The Prime Minister made these observations while chairing a meeting on power sector at Ministry of Water and Power on Thursday. The Prime Minister said he had great hopes from the Secretaries’ Committee formed by the government to give recommendations to improve the power situation in the country.

The Secretaries’ Committee consists of Federal Secretary Finance, Federal Secretary Petroleum and Federal Secretary Water and Power.

The PM said that the Secretaries’ Committee should ensure uninterrupted supply of fuel for optimal generation from power plants and also come up with doable suggestions to improve the entire energy chain from generation to distribution.

He said the government has been subsidising an amount of Rs 250 billion annually despite financial constraints, to reduce the burden on consumers. This subsidy works out on average to Rs 3.50 per unit.

Unfortunately, this relief has not attracted the appreciation from the public, the Prime Minister observed. He directed NEPRA to work out an upfront tariff for investors interested in alternative energy projects like wind and solar energy.  This would help the investor in making his decision to invest in this sector without going through complicated and complex procedures for seeking tariff in each case.

He said there should be zero tolerance for those who do not pay their electricity bills. He directed the Ministry of Water and Power to redouble their efforts to recover the outstanding dues so that the financial health of the sector can be improved.

“The consumers making full payments should not suffer because of defaulters,” he said and added after the NFC Award the provincial governments have a better fiscal space.

He appreciated a proposal that the provinces should pool their finances and invest for the construction of hydel power projects.

Earlier, the Wapda chairman briefed the Prime Minister on various hydel power projects including Allai Khwar-Battagram, Jinnah Hydropower-Mianwali, Gomal Zam Dam-South Waziristan Agency, Satpara Dam-Skardu, Duber Khwar-Kohistan, Jabban Hydropower Malakand and Laraib HPP which has a total capacity of 487MW and would be inducted in the national grid by March 2013.

The PM was also told that Tarbela Dam is likely to be filled soon while Mangla Dam has been filled to a level of 1180 feet against highest level of 1230 feet. The PM was also briefed about the progress made so far in the construction of Diamir Bhasha Dam and the efforts being made to garner finances for the project.

The Wapda chairman thanked the Prime Minister for his personal interest in the release of a sum of Rs 6 billion which will ensure the completion of Rainee and Katchi Canal projects by the end of this year.

The Prime Minister said he would like to visit the project soon.

The meeting was attended by Ch Ahmad Mukhtar, Minister for Water and Power, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for Finance, Dr Asim Hussain, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources, Tasneem Ahmad Qureshi, Minister of State for Water and Power, Shakil Durrani, Chairman WAPDA, Ghiasuddin, Chairman NEPRA, Naveed Ismail, MD NTDC, NA Zuberi, MD PPIB, Zafar Ali Chairman IRSA and other senior officials of the relevant ministries.