The ongoing energy crisis is causing a three per cent loss to the country’s GDP, said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Jehangir Tareen on Saturday.
Tareen, the party’s policy and planning wing head, said the government needed to be proactive. He condemned the government for “never” solving problems before they turn into crises. The energy crisis has already resulted in shifting of industries to other countries, he said. Tareen criticised the government for not coming up with an effective plan to deal with the crisis despite having been in power for five years. “It doubled the electricity tariff and paid a trillion rupees in subsidies but still has a Rs450 billion circular debt to clear,” he said.
He gave a number of proposals that he said could increase power generation by 3,000 megawatts (MW) immediately. He suggested that 210MMCFD of natural gas be diverted to power generations plants. He said that the government needed to come up with at least Rs80 billion immediately to clear some of the circular debt, in order to enable power plants to purchase furnace oil. He claimed that another 1,000 MW can be generated by releasing water from Mangla and Tarbela Dams. The water will not be wasted, he said, it can be used to irrigate Kharif crops in Sindh and Punjab.
Another immediate solution he suggested was to import electricity from Iran. “Iran has already completed installing lines at their end, but no ground work has been done by our government,” he said.
Tareen also proposed “medium-term solutions”, which include bringing down line losses from 20 per cent to 10 per cent, increasing collection from 85 per cent to 95 per cent and converting power plants with a generation capacity of 4500MW from furnace oil to coal. Adopting the recommendations, Tareen said, would save the government Rs475 billion annually.
He said that the current demand was almost equal to the country’s power generation capacity, “The total capacity is 23,000 MW. Taking into account degradation of plants, it comes to about 19,700 MW,” he said.
Tareen rejected PML-Q’s proposal that provincial funds from the NFC award be used to pay off the circular debt. “The subject is a federal one,” he said, adding that federal and provincial governments, however, needed to cooperate to solve the crisis.
The long-term solution, said Tareen, is construction of dams, “which unfortunately is not the government’s priority.”
The PTI leader said the party was ready to discuss the plan with the government. “It’s now up to them,” he said. Tareen added that the PTI did not want to engage in “political point scoring” on the issue “because this crisis has made thousands of people jobless.”
In a separate statement, Shafqat Mahmood, the PTI central information secretary, condemned an attack on the party’s Vehari office. The protest was organised by the PML-N to attack the PTI office, he alleged. He described it as “orchestrated vandalism”. This, he said, was not the first time such a thing had happened.
He said that Punjab Police acted as “silent spectators” until the office was “completely destroyed”. Then, Mahmood said, the police had registered an FIR against PTI office bearers instead of the attackers.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2012.