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US pledges support to end energy crisis in Sindh

By Hina Mahgul Rind
January 24, 2016

KARACHI: The United States of America will continue to help the Sindh government overcome its energy crisis, said its envoy on Saturday. 

“In energy sector, we have already provided $39 million,” said US Consul General Brian Heath, speaking at the ‘Sindh Development Conference’, organised by the Sindhi Association of North America.

Heath said the US Agency for International Development is providing assistance to Sindh in three major areas, including energy, education and health.

He said the key to economic development is a reliable source of energy. The U.S. government has already contributed $39 million to repairing and rehabilitating of two thermal power stations in Sindh: Guddu and Jamshoro thermal power stations. “Our investments have significantly enhanced the power generation capacity of these plants by 270 megawatts, which is enough to supply electricity to more than 3.5 million people,” he added.

The consul general offered the U.S. government’s support to the province in the education sector. 

“Our support on ‘Sindh Basic Education Program’ has ensured to provide access to 50,000 children to 106 newly constructed schools,” Consul General added. 

“We have also supported a recently inaugurated 133-bed state of the art hospital at Jacobabad worth $18 million, which will improve primary and secondary health care services to one million people in northern Sindh and neighbouring districts of Balochistan.” 

There is also another clean drinking water project worth $36 million in Jacobabad, which will provide drinking water and sanitation services to the local residents.

Other speakers at the moot said lack of good governance and quality human resource and institutions are the main reasons for the under development in Sindh. 

“There is dearth of skilled human resource, and bad governance is one of the challenges Sindh government is facing,” said Sindh Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah.

Shah said Sindh is the only province, which gives priority to public- private partnership and a number of such projects include construction of roads and bridges, power projects and health and education sectors.

He said Sindh government is developing 100-megawatt power project in Nooriabad. It is establishing Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company on the pattern of NTDC to create capacity for distributing the power.

Minister Shah said the provincial government has paid the highest price to the farmers for their produce. Prior to 2008, farmers of Sindh were not well-off. However Sindh farmers have been prospering since 2008 onwards.

He said Sindh government is more focused on health and education sectors. The government spent Rs142 billion on education and Rs57 billion on health sectors.

“It is an irony that Sindhi doctors are not willing to work in rural Sindh, including Thar. The government has built hospitals and schools but the locals are not motivated to perform their duties. They prefer lucrative jobs in Hyderabad and Karachi,” he added.

Ex-Governor Ishrat Husain at the State Bank of Pakistan said Sindh needs sustainable and accountable development. “Sindh is a resourceful province, but unfortunately the proper utilisation of the resources is missing and more resources are being wasted,” Husain said.

He said the Sindh economy has not been much developed since 1970. The issues are still the same.

“Local government system is the ultimate solution to many problems of the masses,” he said. After 18th amendment and 7th NFC award, Sindh government should transfer the power to local government in order to resolve the problems at district and community levels.

“Political interference in the state institutions, including health, education and water has destroyed these institutions. Sindh government should refrain itself from political patronage of these institutions,” he added.