The Punjab government has allocated only Rs350 million for industries, commerce and investment in the province, which is 1.4% of the total annual development budget of Rs250 billion for the fiscal year 2012-13.
However for energy projects, the government has set aside Rs10 billion in order to facilitate the industries, shows the budget documents as the Punjab government announced its budget for 2012-13 here on Saturday.
Out of the Rs350 million, Rs189.050 million will be spent on seven ongoing schemes while Rs160.950 million has been allocated to six new schemes.
To tackle the energy crisis, the provincial government has earmarked Rs10 billion for construction of five hydropower stations, feasibility study for development of coal-based power projects and an industrial estate as well as for installation of solar tube wells.
Out of the Rs10 billion, Rs1.985 billion will be spent on ongoing projects while Rs8.015 billion will go to new projects. The provincial government will provide Rs8.5 billion while the remaining Rs1.5 billion will come in shape of foreign aid.
Punjab, which consumes 68% of total electricity generated in the country, has taken some measures to cope with the energy shortfall that has hurt its economic growth.
Highlighting the steps, it said it had established the Punjab Power Development Company to develop five hydropower projects with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Punjab Power Development Board to facilitate private sector investment in the power sector.
Besides these, an independent energy department has also been established by the provincial government to plan, oversee and administer the development, growth and regulation of the energy sector.
The government announced that it would give incentives for encouraging public-private partnerships in the energy sector. It has already started construction of two hydropower stations at Marala (7.64 megawatts) and Pakpattan (2.82MW), whereas work on the other three hydropower stations at Deg Outfall (4.04MW), Chianwali (5.38MW) and Okara (4.16MW) is expected to start soon.
The provincial government has already entered into an agreement for 180MW Kot Addu power project with a Chinese company. It has also expressed interest in generating electricity from sugarcane waste and has set aside Rs1 billion in the budget for alternative energy resources.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2012.