ISLAMABAD: Expressing concern over increasing power shortfall in the country, businessmen have pressed the government to take immediate measures to address the energy woes of trade, industry and the general public.
Presiding over a meeting of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI)’s sub-committee on energy, ICCI President Zafar Bakhtawari pointed out that after the government released Rs332 billion to wipe off most of the inter-corporate debt, the businessmen were expecting adequate relief in power supply. Contrary to this, the power shortfall has again widened to 5,000 megawatts, which he termed quite disturbing.
He claimed that the energy shortage had already caused a huge production loss of Rs200 billion per annum to textile manufacturers and the industry also lost export orders worth $1 billion to other destinations.
“The new government had given us lot of hope by according top priority to resolving the energy crisis, but still there are no visible positive changes in power supply,” he said.
However, Bakhtawari welcomed the completion of Pakistan’s first private hydroelectric power project of 84MW capacity, build by Laraib Energy Limited near Mangla Dam in Azad Kashmir, hoping it would pave the way for more private sector investment in power production.
According to Bakhtawari, Laraib Energy faced great difficulties in completing this important project, which the government should fully investigate and find out the vested interests that created hurdles to thwart private sector investment in the power sector.
Committee members stressed that Pakistan had the potential to generate 100,000MW of hydropower according to official estimates and it was unfortunate that no government made any serious effort to harness this huge power source, which is also very cheap compared to thermal power.
Bakhtawari asked the government to focus on construction of small hydroelectric power projects and provide attractive incentives to investors so that more private sector investors could come and invest in such projects for the economic development of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2013.
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