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Energy crisis a management issue: Planning Commission

The Planning Commission believes that energy crisis in Pakistan is a management and not a capacity issue.

A presentation titled “Framework for Economic Growth, Pakistan” a copy of which is available with The News disclosed key determinants of growth today are economic governance and human capital by conceding that focus of growth has now been shifted on “software” of growth.

“Over time, Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) project selection has been politicized that needs rationalization of whole development programme,” the presentation accepted this assertion, adding that there was gross under utilization of existing infrastructure in the country.

When contacted Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Dr Nadeem-Ul-Haq, said that the country required vigorous reforms plan with full implementation to tackle the problem of energy crisis, and the government was making all out efforts to correct the situation.

He said the energy crisis was absolutely management issue, as capacity of electricity generation existed but difficult path was persuasion of key reforms in all areas.

However, sources said that nothing, on account of much required “reform agenda”, implemented during the PPP led regime, as the monster of circular debt was mounting despite raising tariff in the range of 150 to 170 percent in last four years.

“Where is the concept of smart meters,” said the sources and replied that it could not be implemented because vested interests did not want to close avenues for corruption.

“There are experts for conducting audit on annual basis related to distribution companies (Discos), power generations companies (Gencos) and Independent Power Producers (IPPs),” said an official and added that the regulator of power sector, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) failed to deliver discharging its obligations. However, the presentation states that while physical investment will be required for growth, but such investment can only happen in an enabling environment, as constraints to the country’s economic growth have been identified as inadequate market developments in the context of lack of competition, tax tariff and policy distortions, entry barriers, government’s involvement and poor regulation as well as lack of efficient public sector management. In 2010, there were 110 million people in working age group in Pakistan that will shoot up 236 million by 2050 so Planning Commission argues that the country requires GDP growth in the range of 5-6 percent on short term basis and 6 to 7 percent on long term basis.

It proposes the government to change its role by ensuring its exit from markets by restructuring and privatizing or even closing down of institutions and departments. The government should also move ahead with deregulation of Competition Commission of Pakistan, Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and State Bank of Pakistan.

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