Dastgir admits energy debt figures are too large for economy to manage

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Federal Minister for Energy, Khurram Dastgir Khan has said the currently existing energy crisis and debt figures are too large for economy to manage.

Pakistan has a sufficient generation Capacity, but due to lack of transmission Infrastructure, low recoveries, and high cost of thermal fuels, the current generation is falling behind the required demand.

He said this while speaking as special guest on high level inception workshop on ‘Development of SDG7 roadmap for Pakistan,’ jointly organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Private Power & Infrastructure Board (PPIB), and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific UNESCAP.

Mr Khan highlighted that although Pakistan does have sufficient capacity to make country free of demand-supply gap, we don’t have financial resources to generate electricity through diesel and furnace due to their high costs. The State is also suffering from capacity to recover the electricity bills leading to continuously rising circular debt, he added.

Ms Romina Khurshid, MNA, asserted that our focus should be on energy conservation along with promoting green energy. This step is important to benefit all segments of society through a sustained and gradual transition, she added.

Mr Shahjehan Mirza, Managing Director, PPIB informed the participants that despite having a low carbon footprint as compared to other countries, Pakistan has set the target to shift 30% of energy reliance on renewable energy sources by 2030.

“To achieve this target, the country needs international monetary support due to the high financial requirements for the infrastructure development required for achieving this goal,” Mr Mirza said while highlighting several initiatives taken and in the pipeline by the government to promote renewable energy sources in the country.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, in his welcome remarks earlier said that rolling back subsidies on fuel are a make or break in the negotiations with IMF. The high fuel prices should be able to catalyze the shift towards renewable energy. “While making policies to encourage shift to renewable energy sources, the political parties should be taken on board for effective policies,” Dr Suleri added.

Sergi, Representative from UNESCAP, opined that Covid-19 was a wakeup call for the international community to get back on track for build forward on SDGs. He asserted that UNESCAP is providing national governments with the framework to build their own transition models to transition to clean and green energy.

Dr Sardar Mohazzam, Managing Director, NEECA, was of view that energy efficiency is not a new concept in Pakistan and the root cause of the energy crisis should be addressed. Energy conservation is much more cost effective than energy generation and Pakistan must reduce its energy intensity for sustainable economic growth and increasing the GDP. Therefore, the need for energy audits, especially in the public sector, is important to improve on energy efficiency and energy conservation in the country.

Dr Zulfiqar Ali, Managing Director Board of Investment, viewed that there is an immense potential for investment in the renewable energy sector in Pakistan. The government is ensuring ease of doing business to attract the investment required to support clean energy transition. Besides, the government is also incentivizing consumers who sell energy captured from rooftop solar panels to the national grid for more economical energy generation, he concluded. Dr Hina Aslam of SDPI moderated the sessions.

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