The United States has released $280 million in immediate funds to support improvements in Mangla Dam and complete due diligence on the Kurram Tangi Dam on Friday. The funds are expected to contribute towards increasing electricity supply to the national grid and help overcome the burgeoning energy crisis in the country.
A statement released by the US embassy said that relieving Pakistan’s energy crisis was a top priority for the US civilian assistance program, citing the release of funds as the “latest example of the United States’ long-term and enduring support for Pakistan’s energy sector and for the people of Pakistan”.
Under the Kerry-Lugar funding, United States has been supporting large scale, impact-oriented infrastructure projects aimed at meeting the energy shortfall in Pakistan. The projects, meant to increase energy production as well as improve electricity distribution, are expected to add 900 megawatts to the national grid by 2013.
The financing for dam projects follows United States existing support in the Gomal Zam Dam, Satpara Dam, and Tarbela Dam projects which will generate 120 megawatts upon completion.
“Our institutional support ranges from improving the governance of the power sector to strengthening the performance of Pakistan’s power distribution companies. We are helping develop new policies to rationalise pricing, reduce subsidies, increase revenues, and improve the distribution of energy resources,” the statement added.
This latest tranche of funding follows the release of $1.1 billion in the long overdue Coalition Support Funds (CSF) on Thursday demonstrating a marked improvement in bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States.
The CSF funds, along with other financial disbursements, had been halted after relations between the two countries soured in the aftermath of the Salala attack. However, the reopening of Nato supply routes have resulted in continous US assistance towards infrastructure projects in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.