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Energy Conference on South Asia: Govt is resolving energy issues on priority basis

The current government is resolving energy related issues as priority concern and strategising a roadmap to address them on long-term basis, said Dr Mussadiq Malik Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Energy during his presentation at Energy Conference on South Asia organised by SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry( SAARC CCI) in collaboration with SAARC Energy Centre and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

He regarded energy related statistics often quoted by media as fudged and claimed the country’s total electricity generation capacity was 13,000 megawatts (MW) to 13,500 MW instead of boasted 16,000 MW to 18,000 MW.

The country was generating 10,000 MW to 10,500 MW electricity against demand of 13,500 MW, creating shortfall of 2,500 MW to 3,000 MW, which would be brought to zero level within next few years, said Malik.

Per unit electricity generated by solar was Rs 18-20, followed by wind energy Rs 16-18/unit, diesel from Rs 12-14/unit and hydro from Rs Rs 8-10/unit while on an average cost of single unit produced by energy mix was around Rs 9.6 (tax excluding) while the average tariff rate of the government of Pakistan was only Rs 8/unit, causing allocation of huge subsidies, which subsequently added pressure on the government and created huge circular debt of Rs 600 billion, an unaffordable burden on economy like Pakistan.

He challenged the rate of line and distribution losses more than 24 percent, which was quite higher as compared with the benchmark figure of 16 percent determined by NEPRA. Although the hydropower was the cheapest sources of electricity generation, the cost of equipments and their maintenance was quire higher, leaving scarce option for Pakistan to switch generation of electricity from coal. He articulated because of multiple effects, the electricity price in Pakistan has become quite uncompetitive as compared with other South Asian countries particularly with India, trading electricity Rs 7/unit.

He disclosed there were 22 million registered consumers, only 300,000 were industrial consumers, who were the biggest beneficiary of the subsidies (26%) provided by the government and reiterated for the need of pubic and private partnerships to address the energy crisis in the country.

Former President SAARC CCI Tariq Sayeed said although the region of South Asia was blessed with enormous energy potential, despite was unable to tap it. He termed creation of SAARC Energy Centre as important step forward by South Asian leaders, however emphasised for taking prompt actions for implementation Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline Projects, which could address the energy crisis on long-term basis.

Ahmar Ismail Director SAARC (ETS) said heads of states of South Asia have given particular focus to address energy related issues and SAARC had taken a lot of measures through creation of experts groups and technical committees.

Hilal Raza Director SAARC Energy Centre (SEC) said the region had the least per capita energy consumption, which would have to be increased to attain the persistent economic growth. SAARC Energy Centre has presented idea of SAARC Energy Grid, which will help meet energy demands in future.

Iftikhar Ali Malik vice President SAARC CCI said although the present government had been able to control power cuts to some extent, it would have to pursue long-term measures to address energy crisis, which had been badly affecting the industrial and commercial activities in Pakistan.

Iqbal Tabish Secretary General SAARC CCI, Salam Ahmed vice Chairperson of SAARC CCI Women Entrepreneurs Council (Pakistan) also spoke on the occasion.

Experts on energy from South Asian countries including Dr S M Nasif Shams, Bangladesh, Dorji Yangka, Bhutan, Dr Irfan Khan and Dr Thusitha Sugathapala, Sri Lanka also highlighted the topic.

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