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Pak-US Economic Working Group to discuss Basha dam project

Richard G Olson, Ambassador of the United States on Friday reaffirmed the US commitment to continue supporting the people of Pakistan and help the government improve the power sector woes.

He stated this during a meeting with Ahmed Mukhtar, federal minister for water and power.

Diamer-Basha Dam is an important project for future water requirements and to generate cheaper power, he said, adding that the US is interested in this project and other hydel sector projects.

Diamer-Basha Dam project would be discussed in the meeting of the US-Pakistan Economic Working Group to be held next month in Washington, said Olson.

The two leaders discussed various matters of mutual interest and to enhance bilateral cooperation in the energy sector.

The US is committed to work with the government of Pakistan towards a brighter future for the people of Pakistan, said the ambassador.

The US is providing assistance in various power sector projects and working to modernise Tarbela power station, Mangla Dam power house, upgradation of the Jamshoro, Guddu Muzaffargarh thermal plants, provides funding for completing Gomal Zam and Satpara dams, he said. These energy projects would add 900MW to the power grid by 2013.

Sources said that in various meetings held so far with the US officials, Washington has indicated that it would extend $200 million annually for five years for the Diamer-Basha dam. Though it is not a substantial amount of credit line but Pakistani functionaries termed it important, saying the US credit line for the project would force the World Bank too to announce credit line for Basha dam, said sources.

The minister appreciated the US cooperation and assistance being extended to the power sector and said that it would help improve the efficiency of the public sector power entities.

The government, he said, is working on the power sector reforms, rehabilitation, upgradation of power generation companies (Gencos), improvement in the working of distribution companies (Discos), distribution of 30 million energy savers, installation of smart metres, improvement in recoveries, controlling power theft and reduction in line losses.

The minister said that Pakistan is focusing on coal generation and also briefed the ambassador on conversion of thermal plants on coal.

This will help save foreign exchange and generation of cheaper electricity, he said. Mukhtar said that the power situation is improving as various steps were taken in this regard.

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