Textile industry braces for criticism at today’s meeting

Its power units got cheap gas, but sold electricity at high rates.


Zafar Bhutta April 19, 2013
The petroleum ministry working under the previous government, on the insistence of the textile industry, had eased energy efficiency requirements for captive power plants and natural gas boilers. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Textile industrialists may come under scathing attack at a high-level meeting called in Lahore on Saturday (today) to discuss the captive power scam being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Caretaker Petroleum Minister Suhail Wajahat Siddiqui will chair the meeting, which will be attended by all stakeholders, sources say.

In recent days, NAB has lashed out at government officials for supplying gas to inefficient captive power plants of textile manufacturing units at subsidised rates, which in turn sold electricity to the government at higher rates.

The petroleum ministry working under the previous government, on the insistence of the textile industry, had eased energy efficiency requirements for captive power plants and natural gas boilers.

This government also changed the priority list for gas supply to different sectors. Captive power plants, which were at fourth position according to a decision of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), were brought to third before the end of government’s tenure.

According to sources, some directors of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines are also exerting pressure on the caretaker government to provide gas in line with the gas allocation policy approved by the previous government, which put fertiliser plants at number three in the priority list.



Though the power sector is on second position, it is not getting gas supply. Even new plants with over 50% efficiency, such as Saif, Orient and Halmore having capacity of 900 megawatts, remain either closed or run on high speed diesel to produce expensive power because of shortage of gas, an official of the water and power ministry said.

The gas allocation policy was being violated as power plants were not being provided gas in line with the priority order, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2013.

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