- Minister for Power says subsidy announced by the previous government for electricity prices is unaffordable
Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir Khan on Tuesday said that the government remains committed to solving the energy problems of the country, adding that renewable energy like hydel and solar is the way forward.
Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad, the minister said hydel generation is the "mainstay" of the country's energy and that despite its issues it remains the most feasible source of energy in the long run.
“Interestingly the new magic bullet is solar, as we are told that solar rates are coming down. Therefore, the way forward is hydel plus solar, and whatever wind generation we can come up with,” said Dastgir.
The federal minister also said the subsidy announced by the previous government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in electricity prices is unaffordable. “This is a profound crisis and something we are trying to find a solution to."
The minister said that half of the power distribution companies in the country remain ungovernable. “The losses are too high, and they have become a sinkhole of public finances, and its once again a difficult challenge, that we are grasping,” he said.
The minister informed that the Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP) is in the process of being revised again for approval from the cabinet owing to a "tremendous" rise in the energy prices since the beginning of this year.
“In 2013, coal was the cheapest source of energy generation, which is no longer the case due to incredible rise in coal prices in recent weeks,” said Dastgir, adding that the case with RLNG and furnace oil is also similar.
Talking about the issues pertaining to K-Electric, the power minister questioned the privatization of the power utility. “Is it something profoundly wrong in converting a publically owned monopoly to a privately owned monopoly? As it appears to me that KE is not serving its consumers to their satisfaction."
Meanwhile, Minister of State Dr Musadik Malik in his address pointed out that dependence on imported fuel has rendered local industries uncompetitive in the international market.
“50% of our gasoline oil is imported, and more than a third of our gas is now imported. So the question arises, how can we continue, if we don’t have a competitive industrial footprint in the first place?” asked Malik.
“If we don’t fix this, we cannot fix the external sector, which will push us back towards the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In order for us to have growth and provide employment to our people, it is incumbent upon us that we fix our sector and we decrease our dependence on imported fuel,” he said
Pakistan imported petroleum products worth $17.033 billion, an increase of 95.84% during the first ten months of the current fiscal year (2021-22) as against the imports of $8.697 billion last year, according to the latest data issued by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).