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Energy policy finalised but not announced

June 29, 2013

ISLAMABAD, June 28: The government has finalised its much talked about energy policy and it will soon be announced by Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, according to a statement issued by his office after the conclusion of a meeting on Friday.

But the statement failed to mention the date of unveiling the policy which, the government claims, would prove to be a “panacea for Pakistan’s energy ills”.

Asked if the policy would be announced before the prime minister’s visit to China on July 4, a senior official of the prime minister office said it was up to Mr Sharif to decide. He will be in China until July 8.

“At the moment, we don’t know when and how the prime minister wants to announce the policy,” said the official.

In his inaugural speech in the National Assembly on June 5 after he was elected leader of the house, Prime Minister Sharif had declared that he would present a plan on loadshedding in an address to the nation.

Sharing its salient features, a government official said the policy covered different aspects of the energy problem.

Under it, only domestic consumers who use 300 units or less per month will be provided subsidy. The CNG sector will be phased out with periodic price increases.

The government will pay more attention to hydro electricity and coal-based power generation. Gas production price will be increased to offer incentives to companies interested in exploring gas reserves.

The official said the prime minister and his team working on the energy policy were confident that with its implementation, they would be able to significantly cut down on current loadshedding hours and lay down a workable plan to address future energy needs of the country.

A similar level of confidence was expressed in the statement which quoted the prime minister as saying “… people and economy have suffered badly at the hands of crippling power crisis and it is high time that prudent and consistent policies are pursued to come out of this morass.”

Friday’s meeting discussed contours of the policy and analysed minute details threadbare, it said. The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif, Dr Musaddiq Malik, special assistant to the PM, Shaukat Tarin, former finance minister who is helping the government in charting out its strategy, and other stakeholders from private and public sectors.

As usual, the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, was also present in the meeting to give his input and see how quick the federal government was going to match up to the lofty claims about an end to loadshedding he had made during the election campaign.

Besides giving a number of deadlines ranging from six months to three years to end loadshedding, the younger Sharif had said on record that if the PML-N failed to address the energy issue, he would not contest election again.

The PML-N government had no other option but to deliver on energy crisis, Otherwise, the party may be wiped out in the next elections like the PPP, warned the official.