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October 26, 2018

Sindh rejects power tariff hikes


October 26, 2018

KARACHI: Sindh on Thursday slammed electricity tariff hikes by the federal government, demanding autonomy in making of power policies to boost energy production.

“The increase in power tariff is not a solution,” Imtiaz Shaikh, provincial energy minister said, addressing a press conference.

Shaikh urged the Prime Minister Imran Khan to allow the province to produce power through coal, wind, gas and solar systems.

“PM Khan was demanding the same when he was in opposition,” he said.

On Wednesday, the government increased electricity tariffs, exempting domestic consumers producing up to 300 units from the hikes.

Shaikh said the government took the decision without discussing the proposal in the Council of Common Interests (CCI). He asked Islamabad to discuss mutual issues in CCI before taking any policy decision.

“Increase in power tariffs can create law and order situation in the country,” he added. “It is not justified to transfer burden on poor people.”

Energy minister said electricity tariff can be reduced to five rupees per unit if power production from coal, wind, solar and gas increases.

Shaikh said the previous government did not permit Sindh to produce electricity neither provided the energy sector’s development funds.

In the past, foreign investors agreed to invest $100 million in wind and solar projects and asked the federal government to grant the permission to the province.

“Foreign investors who were interested to invest in power generation through wind, solar and coal left the country,” he added. “Sindh allocated 55,000 acres of land for wind project.”

Energy minister said Sindh has been disallowed to make its own power policies and decisions were taken without taking provinces into confidence.

The minister urged the PM to take Sindh and other provinces onboard in making power policies as Sindh is a major stakeholder in producing gas, oil and coal.

Shaikh said the country spends huge foreign reserves on oil import.

“Sindh has potential to produce power through wind and solar systems,” he added. “The province has alternative arrangements to produce power through gas, wind, solar and coal.”

Energy minister said the province is adding more than 1,000 megawatts of wind power to grid. “At least 35 wind power projects have been awaiting approval of Nepra (National Electric Power Regulatory Authority) since long.”

The minister further sought permission from the federal government to produce oil.

He said the province accounts for 68 percent of the country’s gas production, “but its quota is only 11 percent while producer must be provided with major share under a law”.

The minister complained that the province has no representation in Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, Nepra, National Transmission and Despatch Company, Pakistan Petroleum Limited and Pakistan State Oil. “The federal government should give provinces representation in these organisations,” he said.

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