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ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday extended deadline by 6-7 months to achieve financial close for three critical power projects of almost $3 billion.

A decision to this effect was taken by the board of directors of Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB), presided over by Power Minister Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, which also approved the terms of reference for a committee to process human resource issues of the board.

Informed sources said the two Thar-based power projects of 330 megawatts each — Thar Energy Ltd and ThalNova — were given six months additional to achieve their financial close by September 2018 without changing their commercial operation dates. The meeting also allowed a seven-month extension for the $2.1bn Matiari-Lahore Transmission line until December.

The extensions in deadline were given on assurance that all the three parties had lost some time in completion of processes with respective government agencies and the regulators but had made reasonable progress to believe they would be able to complete formalities with the banking sector within 6-7 months. The deadlines for these projects were earlier set in the first and second weeks of current year.

Leghari said the government was working on upgrading the existing transmission network to make it more reliable and efficient and National Transmission Despatch Company had been asked to take the necessary measures. At the same time, private sector was being encouraged to contribute in network expansion. As a result, so far, Pakistan’s first ever HVDC Transmission Line project had already been initiated in the private sector under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor while several other projects were being planned to launch through international competitive bidding. The Power Division sources said the committee had already decided bifurcating the departments of information technology, administration and human resource and had proposed firming up an HR policy before considering cases for promotion and upgradation.

The board was also given briefing on the performance of PPIB. It was reported that the power board was successfully meeting the challenging and ambitious timelines of the current government for the addition of huge quantum of power generation capacity in the national grid. As a result, two new plants of almost a combined capacity of 1,467MW had started commercial operations within a period of less than one year while four projects of 5,000MW cumulative capacity had achieved partial commissioning.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2018