LAHORE, Nov 13: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Tuesday said his government was working on different projects to address growing power shortages that have crippled the country’s economy by causing production and job losses.
The government was working on several hydropower and coal-based electricity generation projects to remove the shortages, the prime minister told a gathering of businesspeople at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
But he cautioned the people that the increase in the production of electricity from coal or water resources would not resolve the problems. The power production projects like the Thar Coal Gasification project being run by Dr Samar Mubarakmand, known scientist, would also require investment in power generation stations and transmission lines for their connectivity with the national grid and that was going to take some time.
He said a few foreign firms had also started exploratory work for Thar coal, implying that foreign capital was coming back to Pakistan.
On the controversial Kalabagh dam project, the prime minister ruled out its implementation under present circumstances. “The Kalabagh Dam was not built even during the tenure of autocratic regimes,” he said.
“We should discuss doable projects and leave Kalabagh Dam out till all provinces agree to its implementation,” he advised the businessmen supporting the project.
Raja Pervaiz said Pakistan was not the only country facing electricity gaps. Many other countries including India, the Middle East, Bangladesh and Bhutan were also facing the electricity shortages.
LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar welcomed the prime minister and sought to bring his attention towards a number of issues including energy shortages, smuggling, circular debt, water scarcity, security concerns, etc., impeding growth, job creation and fresh investment in the country.
The premier conceded that the economic crisis was profound and “we will have to work together to resolve it”.
He said the government had been trying to improve the economy and inflation had been brought down to the single digit while revenues had been doubled in last four years.
He admitted that the law and order situation was impeding economic growth while energy and power crisis had reduced the productivity of the industry and praised the resilience of the entrepreneurs who had braved energy shortages and adverse law and order situation.On trade with India, he said the government was fully committed to increase trade with its largest south Asian neighbour and would facilitate businessmen in increasing their market share there.
He also assured the local businessmen that their interests would be protected while liberalising trade with India.”
In the meanwhile, the prime minister also met the top leadership of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma).
Aptma Chairman Ahsan Bashir highlighted the issues facing the textile industry in running smooth operations due to energy constraints and made a detailed presentation on the way forward with regard to promoting industrialisation.
After the presentation, the premier set up a committee (to be headed by himself) to finalise energy supply management to the textile industry during winter. The committee will devise and streamline the energy security plan for the industry in order to keep production capacities operational during the winter.
He also took Aptma leaders on board on strategising the way forward on market access to the European Union from 2014 onwards with a view to expediting necessary preparatory steps in this regard.
In addition, he assured the Aptma leadership of measures for encouraging further investment under the textile policy for creating jobs and production of exportable surplus in country.