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LAHORE: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s Businessmen Panel (BMP) has called for formulating a reform strategy on an emergency basis, as suspension of electricity supply has been severely affecting trade and industry due to a shortfall of around 7,000 MW amidst closure of more than a dozen power plants in the country.

Former FPCCI president and BMP Chairman Mian Anjum Nisar urged the authorities to take action quickly, taking notice of forced load-shedding in the industry because of non-availability of fuel, technical faults, failure in purchasing of fuel and maintenance of the plants.

Addressing a meeting of members of the business community convened to discuss the crucial issue of load-shedding, he said Pakistan has an installed capacity of over 39,000 MW, but currently the system is producing only 14,000 MW of electricity, which shows the inefficient performance of the power sector.

The BMP chief said that all the major industrial cities in the country are facing outages of 5-8 hours due to which the production activities are badly suffering. The rural areas are also facing long bouts of load-shedding at a time when the mercury is rising. The crisis is making the life of common man miserable.

Referring to a report, Mr Nisar said that 10 power plants have been shut for the last five months because of non-payment of dues, making them unable to purchase fuel required to generate electricity. Of these plants, the Liberty Power of 210 MW, Rousch of 410 MW, Nandipur of 525 MW, FKPCL of 140 MW and nine units of Faisalabad GTPS have not been producing electricity due to non-availability of RLNG since Jan 2022.

Moreover, five power plants, including Port Qasim, Guddu, Muzaffargarh, KAPCO and Jamshoro, are currently not producing electricity. In the same way, HCPC of 120 MW has been out of production since Sept 2019, owing to expiry of its gas supply agreement, the BMP chief said.

Two units of Jamshoro Power House of 549 MW and four units of Muzaffargarh of 840 MW have been non-functional since March 2022 for a lack of furnace oil. The unit-II of the Sahiwal power plant based on coal has not been producing up to 621 MW for the last one month owing to lack of imported coal. As many as 18 power plants having a capacity of 3,605 MW have been non-functional because of technical faults.

Mr Nisar said that WAPDA has an installed capacity of 9,400 MW. However, the system is getting from Tarbela Dam an average of only 762 MW. Mangla is producing 433 MW and Warsak 111 MW, mainly because there’s been no improvement in water flows. On the other hand, the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project is producing 968 MW of electricity and Ghazi Barotha project 644 MW on an average.

He expressed concern over long power outages and stressed the need to rectify technical faults at power plants immediately. He said the industry is troubled by load-shedding. “Out of the non-functional power houses, some plants having 5,741 MW of generation capacity can be made functional with immediate effect,” he added.

The BMP chairman pointed out that the Power Division was unable to timely replace kits or tools in power plants due to lack of funds, rendering them non-functional, some of them for a whole year.

He also called for urgent measures not only to improve the overall economic situation in the country but also to overcome the power shortage. He called upon the government to take urgent measures to control the rising load-shedding as it would badly hit the business and industrial activities.

He said that Pakistan’s energy sector has been facing great losses and enduring distortions in the distribution sector for years, costing the national exchequer billions of rupees annually.

The former president of FPCCI also stressed the need for bringing drastic improvement in the performance of power companies as uninterrupted supply of electricity to businesses and industries is the key requirement to ensure better growth of economy.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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