LAHORE: Governor Chaudhry Sarwar on Wednesday declared both the politicians and the bureaucracy were essential to running the country efficiently, stressing the need for an effective coordination and a relationship based on mutual respect between the two.

Speaking to the media persons at the signing of an MoU between Punjab University and energy department to shift varsities on solar power at the Governor House on Wednesday, he said, “If bureaucracy thinks it can run the country’s affairs without politicians, they are mistaken”. He also said if politicians thought they could bring a change without bureaucracy’s help, it would also not be possible.

“The country can only be run with due participation, understanding and mutual respect between politicians and bureaucrats,” he said.

Lauding Additional Chief Secretary (Energy) Ms Irum Bukhari for her efforts to launch solar energy initiative in the university, that would be replicated in hospitals and government offices, the governor said he would publicly appreciate those bureaucrats “who will work”, while the lazy ones won’t earn this honour.

The governor said the government should bring down the energy cost. “Re-negotiation is the key to bringing down energy cost – may it be with the IPPs or Qatar,” he said.

He regretted that Pakistan had been bound to buy regassified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) at the rate of $9, while India last year entered an agreement to purchase the same fuel at the rate of $2.8.

The governor said through the MoU 7 megawatt energy would be acquired that would help save Rs42.7 million annually.

He said at least 10 universities of the province would be converted to solar energy to save Rs6.14 billion in the next 25 years – the period for which the MoU was signed.

To a query that questioned the logic behind the government looking for saving Rs6 billion in 25 years but slashing universities’ (HEC) funding to the tune of Rs15 billion with one stroke of pen, the governor acknowledged that the varsities were under financial stress and pledged enhancing their budget.

Punjab energy minister Dr Akhtar Malik said the previous government had introduced high-cost projects, burdening the masses.

He also said that Punjab cabinet strongly opposed subsidy for the Orange Line Metro Train.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2020