Nothing came out of energy moot, disappoints masses
April 20, 2012
The outcome of show staged at the chief minister house in Punjab has not only disappointed the load shedding hit people of Pakistan but raised the fears of worst crisis in the coming months. Power generation and conservation was not taken up in the moot. The much trumpeted energy conference proved nothing more than the gathering of high political figures. What was the point to gather all chief ministers and all high official under the chairmanship of prime minister to just decide that the shops would be closed at 8 pm everyday except Saturday, a decision already taken and two holidays in a week.
The decision was taken in the first energy conference and government had tried to implement but failed miserably. The stakeholders termed the decision as the joke with the already suffering masses and totally rejected it as was done previously. While making decision it was not taken into consideration the impacts of previous steps to close shops. Traders have openly challenged the government to counter any move to close the markets by forces.
Another decision was made that all provinces would share the load shedding but Punjab says they are still waiting implementation.
No doubt the country is facing acute energy shortage but it is not because Pakistan has no sufficient resources available. The State Bank of Pakistan has also indicated that the country has enough gas reserves for twenty years, needs to be tapped. The another problem is the increasing circular debt which was also discussed in the conference but no solution was sought. Major electricity defaulters are government departments.
Pakistan’s energy crisis is responsible for almost 37 percent industrial deficit the power sector sucks around 10 percent of national income in the account of subsidy. No effort was made to reduce line losses which are as high as 134 percent, according to 2007-10 estimates.
The power producer did not spare efforts for maintenance of the machinery which resulted in the higher cost of production. Cost of production of public sector companies has risen to 164 percent, KESC 57 percent and IPPs 44 percent. Electricity generation by the power plants installed in 1960s and 1970s is reduced to almost half.
Punjab’s chief minister Shahbaz Sharif says his provinces is being victimized. He is right to some extent because Punjab suffers load shedding up to 15 hours average a day but the line losses of four power generation companies are least in Pakistan, to the tune of 13 to 14 percent. Line losses in Baluchistan are 20 percent, Sindh 35 and Khyber Pakhtonkhwa 37 percent. Due to huge line losses the country incurs financial losses up to Rs 172 billion annually.
No concrete steps were taken to reduced line losses apart from announcing legislation against power theft.
The high input cost will definitely forces industrialists and traders to stretch business activity beyond scheduled hours. More than 80 percent of country’s markets close before 8 pm but those areas also suffer worst power crisis.
The country is blessed with huge coal reserves. Recent experiment of under ground coal gasification has shown new ways of achieving self-reliance in power sector. The government’s response to the thar coal experiment so far is cold and indifferent which is evident from the fact that no funds have been released for the project.
The easy solution to this chronic problems in the eyes of Pakistan’s top officials seems holidays. How a country can afford holidays as businesses remain shut for variety of reasons. The decision will definitely please the bureaucracy who wants even more holidays.
In Pakistan corruption is mother of all evils. Irrational decision to import Rental power plants met with its logical end, thanks to the judiciary. The huge amount, to the tune of around Rs 1 trillion, to be recovered from the RPPs operators can be utilized for the improvement of power infrastructure. Government must expedite recovery process.