SHANGHAI: Pakistan’s economy has been virtually caught up in a time warp due to perennial energy woes. The PML-N government, which has economic revival on top of its agenda, is fully cognizant of the ballooning crisis. And it has channelized all its energies to surmount this challenge.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – who is currently touring China – on Saturday called upon Chinese investors to invest in Pakistan, particularly in the energy sector.
Addressing the Pakistan-China Energy Forum in Shanghai, the premier said that the new government in Pakistan was pro-business and investment-friendly. More than 50 prominent Chinese investors were in attendance.
Nawaz said he was leading the government to pull the country out of the economic meltdown. He expressed the resolve to eliminate all bottlenecks hindering investment in the energy sector.
He added that resolution of energy issues was the top priority of his government which would welcome foreign investment in this sector. He hoped that the Chinese investment in the energy sector would take the lead.
Under the Pak-China trade cooperation pact, the two countries are cooperating for execution of 36 projects in different sectors during the second five-year phase, he said and expressed satisfaction over the success of the first five-year agreement.
“I’ve chosen China as my first destination after assuming office of the prime minister last month. I did so as we have unmatched and special friendship, which is time tested,” he said. “Truly we are Iron Brothers as Premier Li [Keqiang] had remarked during his visit to Islamabad,” Nawaz recalled.
Referring to the issues back in the country, the prime minister said that revival of Pakistan’s economy was the priority of his government. The fundamental challenge of the country was to overcome the energy crunch which had been the greatest impediment in Pakistan’s economic recovery.
“This is [a] daunting [task] because of multiple challenges faced by the country today and with friend like China, we are confident that we would be able to surmount all this,” he added.
Nawaz said that the energy policy and energy security had been the part of his party’s manifesto, and they were striving hard to implement it. The government has already been implementing an energy roadmap. Although the short-term policies would provide temporary relief they were focusing primarily on long-term strategies.
He reiterated that in future, the present government would provide uninterrupted power supply to industries for giving a spur to the business activities.
Inviting the Chinese investors to invest in hydroelectric power projects, the premier said Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project was being executed by a Chinese company. The project has the capacity of generating 696 megawatt of electricity that would be completed by 2015. “If needed, we will slash our non-development expenditures to accelerate the project completion,” he added.
Referring to three more power projects in Karot, Kohala and Taunsa being executed by China’s Three Gorges Corporation, Nawaz said these would add 2,000MW to the national grid.
He said his government looked forward to Chinese investment in renewable energy sector, particularly wind and solar, with the country having accumulated potential of 60,000MW. He said Pakistan was blessed with abundant solar light andstrong wind, adding a Three Gorges Corporation was already engaged in a wind power project in the Jhampir area.
He said other hydropower project, including Diamer-Bhasha and Bunji power projects put together would generate more than 7,000MW. He, however said that Pakistan also has huge coal reservoirs of 185 billion tonnes having capacity to generate 100,000MW for 300 years. The quality of the coal, he said, has been certified internationally and major chunk of it has been found in Thar.
Nawaz said his government strongly encouraged investment in the alternate energy sector and the Alternate Energy Development Board would provide updated guidelines to the Chinese investors.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2013.
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