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May 31, 2012
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Increase generation capacity to tackle power shortages: PM Gilani

May 31, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday claimed that the government was committed to resolving the energy crisis and achieving energy security for the country, adding that Pakistan’s power sector was presently facing a wide demand-supply gap, which had necessitated the enhancement of generation capacity as well as related infrastructure.

The PM was presiding over a meeting of the Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB) to review the progress on private power projects and their future portfolio with a view to increasing the power generation to overcome electricity shortage in the country.

The prime minister said the PPIB would continue to maintain its professional excellence while processing new power projects and facilitate national as well as international entrepreneurs and energy sector players to join hands with the government in its efforts to bring prosperity to the people of Pakistan. He directed that a committee consisting of deputy chairman of Planning Commission, and the secretaries of Finance, Economic Affairs Division, and Water and Power should be set up to facilitate the simplification of procedures aimed at attracting private sector investment in the energy sector.

He also directed the Ministry of Finance to urgently release Rs1.5 billion to Wapda to settle the remaining claims of IPPs.The chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) told the meeting that Mangla Dam would be full up to its capacity for the first time after the completion of Mangla Wall-Raising Project. He said that the project would make 2.9 MAF more water available and make a contribution of Rs18 billion per annum to the country’s economy. The PM said that in 1993, the Energy Task Force was constituted by the then government of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, which led to the formulation of the 1994 Power Policy and resultant creation of Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB), with the purpose to serve as a

‘One Window’ facilitator on the behalf of GOP and its entities.

He said that when the present government took over in 2008, the country was facing severe demand and supply gap of more than 5,000MW during peak load hours. He said that sensing the magnitude of the challenge, the democratic government put in diligent and dedicated efforts to improve the situation, despite various challenges.

He said that IPPs had always played a pivotal role in developing the power sector. “It is evident from the fact that presently there are 28 IPPs providing reliable power in the country,” the prime minister maintained. He said in order to meet the future power requirements in the country, huge investments were required.

He lauded various initiatives by the PPIB such as guidelines for fast track implementation of hydro power projects; proposed ‘policy regimes’ to convert IPPs/Gencos on cheaper fuels; proposed mechanism to improve availability as well as efficiency of public sector generation companies i.e. Gencos through induction of private sector O and M contractors; devised upfront Tariffs for multiple fuel/technology based power projects to boost investments on IPP side; and formulation of Transmission Line Policy to encourage private investment on the infrastructure side.

The premier hoped that upon finalisation of the above mentioned initiatives, the existing gap between the demand and supply would be eliminated in the medium to long term and we would once again get rid of the power outages in the country. While giving a presentation, Managing Director of PPIB said that 28 projects with a capacity of 8,000MW had been installed in the country. The prime minister directed the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources to make arrangements for the release of gas to power plants, which are currently in operation.

He also underscored the urgency of creating a fund for projects in the private sector in the mould of the fund created in 1994 during the tenure of Benazir Bhutto. Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Dr Nadeem-ul-Haq, secretaries of Finance, EAD, Water and Power, Petroleum and Natural Resources, Planning and other senior officials of relevant ministries also attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, the prime minister also met a Chinese delegation led by Dr Shi Zhengrong, Chairman of Suntech China, which called on him at the PM’s House on Wednesday.The PM said that the country’s economic growth was suffering due to energy shortages and the government was taking steps on the short, medium and long-term basis to bridge the gap between demand and supply.

Gilani said that solar energy was the cheapest renewable source and efforts were being made to exploit this potential to the optimum level. He told the delegation that he had inaugurated the country’s first on-grid solar power generation system a few days ago, which would produce electricity of 178MW. PM Gilani ordered immediate implementation of solar on-grid projects as well as solar water pumping in Balochistan and other areas of the Punjab and Sindh to meet the irrigation needs of agricultural sector.

The meeting was informed that Suntech Power would develop projects of 100MW in suitable regions of Pakistan in phases by installing each plant with generating capacity of 20MW. The premier directed the Ministry of Water and Power to extend full facilitation to Suntech in this regard. The company assured that they were excited to start their operations in Pakistan and would try to meet the timeline to help overcome the energy deficiency in the country to the maximum possible extent.

The chairman of Suntech said that he would visit the areas of Pakistan most suitable for solar projects that the Company would undertake in future. Meanwhile, Ambassador Zamir N. Kabulov, Russian President’s Special Envoy on Afghanistan, called on Prime Minister Gilani and said that enormous commonalities existed between Pakistan and Russia on regional issues and bilateral cooperation.

The ambassador said that Vladmir Putin, President of Russia, looked forward to a productive visit to Pakistan and discussions with the Pakistani leadership on a wide range of issues. He said that the visit of the Russian president would be instrumental in further enhancing bilateral and multifaceted cooperation between both countries.

The prime minister recalled his meeting with Vladmir Putin on the sidelines of SCO in which he offered cooperation and assistance for the up-gradation of Pakistan Steel Mills in Karachi. He said that Pakistan was keen to further promote cooperation in the fields of defence, energy, narcotics control, and trade. He said that Pakistan considered Russia a source of stability and peace both at the regional and global levels and underscored the importance of frequent exchanges at the highest level, including that of foreign ministers of both countries, to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

PM Gilani said that he was looking forward to President Putin’s visit to Pakistan, adding that the visit would help deepen and broaden the bilateral relations. He said that Pakistan welcomed Russia’s interest in the Iran-Pakistan Pipeline Project as the two sides had very good meetings on the project and some specific proposals had been discussed in this regard. He said Pakistan also welcomed Russia’s interest in trans-regional energy projects such as CASA-1000 and TAPI.

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