PM’s right focus on energy

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THE way Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is focusing on energy crisis has sparked confidence among the masses that his Government might be able to fulfil its commitment to eliminate load-shedding by the end of its tenure in 2018. On Tuesday, the Prime Minister chaired yet another meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy and renewed his pledge to make load-shedding a history by 2018 and also ensure reduction in dependence on costly fuel, which would help bring down electricity tariff.
The PM’s assurance comes amidst demands by the industry for a multi-year tariff without incidence of surcharge for provision of electricity at regionally competitive rate of Rs 7 per KWh. No doubt, credit goes to the present Government for ensuring zero load-shedding for industry and also reducing its tariff by Rs. 3 per unit for the industry. At the same time, gas price for the industry has also been slashed by 33%, which would ensure reduction in input cost. However, the fact remains that prices of electricity are still much higher in Pakistan than other countries of the region and as a consequence our products become non-competitive in the international market. This is one of the reasons of declining exports and widening trade deficit. Only recently, the Prime Minister also announced three-hour relief in load-shedding for domestic consumers but there are apprehensions that it might not be sustainable as water releases from reservoirs would be stopped in December and January as part of annual maintenance of canals, which means reduction in generation of hydel power. The country is also facing drought conditions, which would also impact the hydel power generation. The government should, therefore, devote more attention on generation of power through alternate energy resources like wind, solar and coal etc. Gas shortage is also complicating things for consumers and steps must be taken to boost its supply through local and foreign sources.