Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said the previous governments lack of attention towards energy sector jeopardised the country’s development and progress and vowed to rectify the issue on a war footing.
Talking to senior media persons at the Prime Minister’s Office Tuesday evening, the prime minister said the entire focus of the present government was aimed at addressing the daunting issue of energy in the country and to ensure its smooth availability to domestic users, industries and other sectors.
The premier was interacting with the media, following a detailed presentation on the energy issue confronting the country and ways to tackle it.
He said if the government was not plagued by this serious problem, it would spend its energies for the betterment of the economy, health and education sectors. Nawaz said he had never during his previous terms faced an energy crisis of this magnitude.
“If we do not have electricity, we have nothing,” he said, adding that no one was likely to make investment in Pakistan in the absence of electricity. “The other problems of the country will be handled one by one, once the power problem is solved.”
He said his team was not only trying to solve the present shortfall, but was also planning to stabilise the country for the next fifty to sixty years.
“The gas sector is also at the verge of devastation,” he said, “and so are Pakistan Railways and Steel Mills”. Nawaz lamented that the overall situation of the country was not very different from that of the energy sector and every sector was badly demanding billions of rupees.
The PM said he wanted to keep his government fully transparent and, therefore, he was also consulting journalists for their suggestions.
“There has been a practice of underhand deals with the electricity thieves but the present government is not going to spare the culprits now, and they are being fined in millions of rupees,” the premier said. He said people were stealing electricity with the help of officials. He said Wapda was using substandard transformers that were causing load-shedding.
The prime minister disclosed that the Jhelum-Neelum Hydropower project was to be completed with Rs45b but now its cost had soared to Rs240b. He said that this project would produce 960 MW of electricity. “Pakistan would have greatly benefited from this project, had it been completed according to the agreement and at its original agreed cost.” He said now the project would be complete in 2016.
Nawaz told journalist that he had also raised the issue of electricity theft in the CCI meeting.
Underscoring the importance of security, he said peace was necessary to stabilize the economy. “We have discussed this issue with Intelligence Bureau (IB) and other agencies and they are seriously trying to work out the problem,’ Nawaz assured.
Nawaz said Thar coal project could be completed within three to five years. “If India can benefit from Thar Coal, why can’t we?” He said India was interested to come here and set up plants at the Thar.
The PM said he was ready to listen what Imran Khan had to say regarding security in the county.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.