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Netherlands offers cooperation in energy sector

The Netherlands is an advanced economy and has the technology and expertise to cooperate with Pakistan in solar, wind, coal and biomass energy to mitigate its energy woes, Robert Dresen, first secretary / head economic affairs of The Netherlands Embassy, said.

Talking to business leaders, he said, The Netherlands is among the top 20 economies of the world with GDP of $820 billion, while Pakistan is emerging as a huge consumer market and The Netherlands wants to cooperate with Pakistan in power generation, energy conservation, shipping, ports development, water purification, dairy farming, agriculture, etc, to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. Located at the gateway to the European Union, which is the world’s largest single market, The Netherlands is a global hub for innovation and high tech value-added products, Dresen said, adding that Pakistan can reap rich economic benefits by improving collaboration in the areas of mutual interests.

The Netherlands has access to limited arable land but due to advanced technology and best practices, it is the second largest exporter of agricultural products in the world, he said.

Pakistan can achieve phenomenal results in its agriculture productivity by having close cooperation with The Netherlands, Dresen said, adding that The Netherlands has special technology and expertise in desilting of dams and Dutch companies could help Pakistan desilt Tarbela and Mangla dams, which will help improve the energy supply.

Pakistan could also benefit from the Dutch private sector investment programme aimed at stimulating growth and creating jobs in the emerging markets, he added.

Shahbaz for steps to end energy crisis

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday said that the energy crisis had badly affected the nation, country and national economy and steps were being taken on war-footing to decrease load-shedding.

The CM stated this while presiding over a meeting of cabinet committee set up with regard to energy crises at Chief Minister’s Office here. Provincial Minister for Energy Sher Ali Khan, Agriculture Minister Dr. Farrukh Javed, Special Assistant Ch. Arshad Jutt, Advisor Azmul Haq, the Planning & Development chairman, the DCO Lahore and the experts attended the meeting.

The chief minister said that education, health, agriculture, livestock, industry, trade and all sections of life had been affected due to energy crisis. The meeting considered the proposed steps for launching energy generating projects through biogas, solar, biomass, wind, hydel and bagasse. The meeting also considered the proposals for promoting the use of solar energy in new housing schemes and newly constructed commercial plazas and converting streets light to solar panels.

Speaking on the occasion, the CM said that they were answerable to the people for reducing energy crisis, therefore, steps were being taken on war-footing for decreasing load-shedding. He said that the projects for generating energy in the minimum time would have to complete.

The CM directed the officials concerned to given final shape one window energy policy at the earliest, calling for the need to complete the process of result-oriented consultation with all stakeholders. He said that the launching of the energy projects under public-private partnership should be considered.

The chief minister said that former federal rulers had committed a serious crime by not paying attention to elimination of energy crisis during five years. He said that, due to the loot and corruption policy of former rulers, the country and the nation had been pushed into darkness. He said that people had given the mandate to the PML-N for eliminating energy crisis and the nation would be rid of agony of load-shedding through collective wisdom and tireless efforts. He said that the PML-N government was marching forward in energy sector without wasting time. He said that they were working on the energy generation projects through coal, wind, hydro, biogas and biomass and other alternate sources.

Shahbaz Sharif said that reforms were needed for capacity building of energy department and the services of qualified experts should be acquired for this purpose. He said that the country’s situation could be improved by ensuring positive use of mineral resources.

Shahbaz discusses energy crisis with US diplomats

US Consul General in Lahore Nina Maria Fite called on Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday and discussed matters related with energy crisis in Pakistan.

According to a handout issued here, Coordinator and Development Assistant Richard Albright, Provincial Minister for Energy Sher Ali Khan, Chief Secretary, the Planning & Development chairman and other officials concerned were also present.

The meeting discussed in detail the problem facing Pakistan in energy sector and cooperation in power generation sector.

Talking on the occasion, the chief minister said that economic and trade activities had been affected due to energy crisis. He said that the government wanted the cooperation of the international community for solving the energy crisis. The Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) government was making sincere efforts to rid the people of load-shedding. He asked the foreign investors to benefit from the investment opportunities in power generation sector, promising every facility to local and foreign investors.

Shahbaz Sharif said that American investors could also benefit from the investment opportunities in energy sector in Pakistan. He said that they had to move ahead with supersonic speed for resolving energy crisis. He said that they would fulfill the promise of reducing load-shedding through commitment and hard work.

Local, foreign investors not investing in country

The energy policy has been approved in principle. This was stated by Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif while speaking in the programme ‘Aaj Kamran Khan Kay Sath’ on Friday. He said that the government is keen to reduce the duration of loadshedding in the next few months.

The minister said that the government is also striving for securing electricity from the Neelum-Jhelum project and the Nandipur project. He said the government is also striving to ensure maximum power supply during the holy month of Ramazan.

In a different segment of the programme, the host, Masood Raza, while commenting on the economy, said that the value of rupee against the dollar fell to a record level on Friday.

Senior analyst Farrukh Saleem said that the cause of the devaluing of the rupee is that neither local nor foreign investors have been investing in the country. He said that the rupee is devalued eight to ten percent a year.

The analyst said that the country’s export is stuck at 25 billion dollars while the import eats away a hefty 40 to 45 billion dollars which has an impact on the health of the rupee.

The government must do something to increase its export and decrease the volume of import.

In a yet different segment of the programme, Masood Raza said that the month of Ramazan is round the corner while the traders and the common man are hugely bothered by the menace of extortions. He said that the DG of Rangers has said it on record that extortion has become an order of the day, and the criminal elements extract around Rs10 million a day.

The criminal elements enjoy support of the political parties. Moreover, the organisations that have been declared defunct under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 are also involved in these activities. It has been observed that the frequency of the activities of the extortionists increase just before the advent of Ramazan.

Meanwhile, Geo News correspondent, Afzal Nadeem Dogar, speaking to Masood Raza in the programme, said that the extortionists become more active just before the advent of the holy month of Ramazan. He said that the menace of extortionism is very much there despite the tall promises made by the government.

Cells have been set up in different departments for prompt action on complaints of extortionism, but their performance is bellow par.

Chief of the Karachi Tajir Ittehad, Atiq Mir, while speaking to Masood Raza in the programme, said that he has reached the conclusion that no government organisation is serious in rooting out crimes like kidnappings for ransom and extortionism.

He said that the performance of the anti-extortion cell is also zero. He said that the demand of the traders is that the city should be put under the control of the Army under Section 245 so that the solution to the city’s problems is found.

Commenting on the Supreme Court proceedings, Masood Raza said that a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while hearing the funds case ordered former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to appear in the court on July 16 and give his explanation on discretionary funds. The chief justice lamented that corruption has gone beyond all bounds.

Geo News correspondent, Abdul Qayyum Siddiqi, said in the programme that 47 billion rupees and 22 billion rupees were earmarked for the People’s Works Programme and the PWD respectively, but the former prime minister had demanded more funds for which 25 billion rupees were arranged for which funds earmarked for other national projects were curtailed and given to development schemes. The former prime minister had not sought approval from the departments concerned. Today, the very people under whose authority all that happened were present in the court to which the chief justice expressed his indignation and wondered how one can expect a transparent inquiry in the presence of those people.

Justice Ejaz Chaudhry said that if the government has entered into a compromise it should let the court know so that the court embarks on finding a way out on its own.

Shahbaz for immediate steps to end energy crisis

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday said that the energy crisis had badly affected the nation, country and national economy and steps were being taken on war-footing to decrease load-shedding.

The CM stated this while presiding over a meeting of cabinet committee set up with regard to energy crises at Chief Minister’s Office here. Provincial Minister for Energy Sher Ali Khan, Agriculture Minister Dr. Farrukh Javed, Special Assistant Ch. Arshad Jutt, Advisor Azmul Haq, the Planning & Development chairman, the DCO Lahore and the experts attended the meeting.

The chief minister said that education, health, agriculture, livestock, industry, trade and all sections of life had been affected due to energy crisis. The meeting considered the proposed steps for launching energy generating projects through biogas, solar, biomass, wind, hydel and bagasse. The meeting also considered the proposals for promoting the use of solar energy in new housing schemes and newly constructed commercial plazas and converting streets light to solar panels.

Speaking on the occasion, the CM said that they were answerable to the people for reducing energy crisis, therefore, steps were being taken on war-footing for decreasing load-shedding. He said that the projects for generating energy in the minimum time would have to complete.

The CM directed the officials concerned to given final shape one window energy policy at the earliest, calling for the need to complete the process of result-oriented consultation with all stakeholders. He said that the launching of the energy projects under public-private partnership should be considered.

The chief minister said that former federal rulers had committed a serious crime by not paying attention to elimination of energy crisis during five years. He said that, due to the loot and corruption policy of former rulers, the country and the nation had been pushed into darkness. He said that people had given the mandate to the PML-N for eliminating energy crisis and the nation would be rid of agony of load-shedding through collective wisdom and tireless efforts. He said that the PML-N government was marching forward in energy sector without wasting time. He said that they were working on the energy generation projects through coal, wind, hydro, biogas and biomass and other alternate sources.

Shahbaz Sharif said that reforms were needed for capacity building of energy department and the services of qualified experts should be acquired for this purpose. He said that the country’s situation could be improved by ensuring positive use of mineral resources.

Circular debt may jump to Rs700 bn if theft, costs not controlled

The energy strategy to be unveiled by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his televised speech to the nation after his return from China promises to reduce loadshedding from the existing 12-18 hours to 6-8 hours during the month of Ramazan.

A high-level meeting on energy strategy was told that on Friday Rs322 billion were paid to all the IPPs and fuel suppliers, including PSO, OGDCL, PPL, etc. by the finance ministry through Pepco as part of the government’s strategy to overcome the issue of circular debt.

However, it has been warned that in case of failure of the strategy — which contains different measures to increase power production, reduce line losses and power theft, shifting to low cost power production — the government could get back into the vicious circle of circular debt.

The sources said that the meeting on energy strategy, chaired by the prime minister, was told that if things continued as they were in the past, the circular debt would rise to as high as Rs700 billion by next year.

Things will only improve if the government reduces power theft/line losses, ensures recoveries, reduces cost of power production and increases the electricity rates.If things go as per the government strategy, the sources said, from October 2013 onwards, loadshedding will drastically be reduced from 12-18 hours to 6-8 hours. “At least you will have two hours of power and one hour of loadshedding as a short-term solution,” one of the sources said.

The meeting was told that the circular debt was actually the recurring losses of the power sector because of line losses/power theft/non-recoveries and for the reason that the government was actually selling electricity at 9 Cents per unit while it cost the government 15 Cents.

The meeting was also told that the government loses 6 Cents per unit as subsidy but does not have the money to pay to the IPPs and oil suppliers, which results into circular debt.

In the current fiscal year, it is said that the circular debt was around Rs500 billion but was based on 12,000MWs of average generation of electricity. In the next fiscal year, it is said that the power generation is expected to increase because of the huge payments made to the IPPs and oil suppliers. If corrective measures are not taken and power sector reforms not implemented, the circular debt for the next year is feared to reach the figure of Rs650-700 billion.

At the current price and cost difference and in view of the present production, the current monthly loss is Rs45 billion. It was said that the only way to reduce this loss was to change the dynamics of price vs cost of energy. The meeting was told that the government had no choice but to increase the price and reduce the cost.

However, the power rates would be later reduced by shifting from thermal (petrol) production to coal, gas and water. Petrol is the most expensive and water is the cheapest, the meeting was told. But shifting the fuel mix will take time and tough decisions are required to be taken like stopping gas for CNG and fertiliser sectors and giving it to the IPPs and industry. The other way to reduce the cost is to stop theft and inefficiency. It is estimated that the loss of 20 percent can be made up by effectively addressing this area.