SHANGHAI, July 6: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Saturday that his “pro-business and pro-investment” government would welcome Chinese investment for tackling Pakistan’s energy crisis.
Speaking at the Pakistan-China Energy Forum, Mr Sharif said he was leading the government’s efforts to revive a moribund economy.
Over 50 prominent Chinese businessmen and investors attended the function.
The prime minister vowed to eliminate all bottlenecks in the way of investment in the energy sector and expressed the hope that Chinese investors would take advantage of the opening.
He said after success of the first five-year agreement, the two countries were now cooperating for execution of 36 projects in different sectors during the second five-year phase of the trade cooperation pact.
“The energy policy and energy security have been part of my party’s manifesto and we are striving hard to implement it. Although short-term policies will provide instant relief, we are focusing on long-term strategies,” the prime minister observed.
Mr Sharif said his government had started implementing the energy roadmap. The government had resolved to provide uninterrupted power supply to the industry for spurring business activities, he added.
Inviting the Chinese companies to invest in hydroelectric projects, Nawaz Sharif said the Neelum-Jhelum project was being executed by a Chinese company. The project, which will be completed by 2015, has a capacity of generating 696MW.
“If needed, we will slash our non-development expenditure to accelerate the project.” He said three other power projects — in Karot, Kohala and Taunsa — being executed by China’s Three Gorges Corporation would add 2,000MW to the national grid.
Mr Sharif said his government looked forward to Chinese investment in the renewable energy sector, particularly wind and solar, as Pakistan’s accumulated potential has been put at a staggering 60,000MW.
The Three Gorges Corporation was already working on a wind power project in Jhimpir.
The Diamer Bhasha and Bunji hydropower projects would generate more than 7,000MW of electricity, the prime minister said.
Pakistan had coal reserves of 185 billion tons with a capacity to generate 100,000MW for 300 years, Mr Sharif observed. The prime minister said the government would encourage investment in the alternative energy sector and the Alternative Energy Development Board would provide updated guidelines to Chinese investors.
He said Chinese financial institutions were also investing in Pakistan and the two governments had recently agreed to a currency swap programme.
He insisted on more free trade through a sustained institutional mechanism to stimulate growth, development and enhanced connectivity.
Mr Sharif said that during Premier Li’s recent visit to Pakistan, “we agreed to set up a Pak-China trade corridor, which will change the economic landscape of the region”.
The corridor envisaged enhanced connectivity and economic relationship, also linking vast regions like China, South Asia, Central Asia and Middle East.
The prime minister assured the investors of his government’s all-out support for setting up energy projects in his country.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said the government would also welcome Chinese investment in solar and wind energy projects.—APP