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China, Russia seek special concessions for helping Pakistan in energy crisis

Russia and China have told Pakistan that they are ready to play their role in coping with the energy crisis but only if Pakistan relaxes rules for international bidding for big projects.These demands have put the top mandarins of the country in a quandary.

The demand is understandable from the point of view of the foreign investors as they do not want to enter a fierce bidding competition but for Pakistan if this was allowed, it could create a disastrous precedent because then the sitting governments in Islamabad or any province will be able to hand over any big project, like the multi-hundred billion dollar Reko Diq gold mines in Balochistan, to the Chinese or any other foreign investor without international bidding.

The top functionaries of various companies of Russia and China in their recent meetings with the top officials of the ministries of finance, water and power and petroleum and natural resources clearly indicated saying incase Pakistan is indeed interested in their cooperation to tackle the monstrous energy crisis, then it will have to hand over the projects to them without any international competitive bidding (ICB). “We are now in a Catch 22 situation as Prime Minister is the competent authority to provide the relaxation from PPRA rules, but the chief executive of the country will never do so as the vibrant media, judiciary and opposition will not allow exemption from PPRA rules because it will compromise transparency,” a senior official at Ministry of water and Power on the condition of anonymity confirmed to The News.

Russian delegation led by Mr Yury Sentyurin, Deputy Minister of Energy that visited Pakistan recently in various meeting with the top officials of Pakistan had shown interest to play its role in coal conversion projects of electricity that include 3 units of 660 MW at Muzaffargarh and one unit of 220 MW at Guddu.

Moscow also manifested its deep interest to install coal based 600 MW of electric power project at Jamshoro. So much so the Russian delegation also showed willingness to install the 550 MW project on local (Thar) coal on the ground that it has the matchless expertise to install the power plants on lignite coal.

During the visit, the Russian side also showed eagerness to provide finding of $1 billion to ailing Pakistan Steel Mills so that it could be turned into profit making entity.

China has demanded the handing over of the main projects in solar, wind, coal and hydro sectors to it seeking the setting aside of PPRA rules. Once some or any of these projects are exempted and handed over, more demands can come, specially for bigger projects where hundreds of millions of dollars have to be invested.

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