- Holds cartels responsible for not allowing Pakistan to explore its indigenous energy resources
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said it was "time to say no" to cartels because they are responsible for not allowing Pakistan to explore its indigenous energy resources.
“Despite having resources, Pakistan remains a petroleum importing country while cartels are dictating terms,” he said while attending the inaugural ceremony of Unit 5 & 6 Mangla Refurbishment Project, aimed at enhancing the dam's electricity generation capacity.
“I think the time has come that we give them a shut-up call, and stand up and say no to them and carve out a way forward and a strategy meant to serve the people of Pakistan,” he said.
The prime minister said Pakistan’s annual energy bill is as much as $27 billion, which cannot be borne by the developing country.
“Pakistan has the capacity to generate 60,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity. However, to date we have only been able to generate 10,000MW,” he added.
According to him, if dams and reservoirs similar to Mangla had been built, Pakistan's petroleum import bill would have been only a fraction of the current amount, and the money saved could have been used for other key sectors like agriculture and industry.
Shehbaz said the government plans to generate 10,000MW through solar power, which is the only key to Pakistan’s growth. “We cannot bear the cost of expensive electricity,” he said.
Talking about agriculture, the PM said: “It is unfortunate, that despite being an agricultural country Pakistan is compelled to import wheat and fertilizers to the tune of billions of dollars."
PM praises US help
During the ceremony, the prime minister praised the role of the US in the development of energy resources in Pakistan, including the $150 million monetary grant given by USAID for the upgradation of the Mangla Refurbishment Project.
“In the last five decades, Mangla Dam has made valuable contributions in promoting our economy, and now after serving this nation wonderfully, it required maintenance, upgradation and refurbishment,” said Shehbaz.
He said the Development Agency of France also provided a loan of 90 million euros and an additional commitment of 65 million euros. This, coupled with WAPDA’s contribution of $178 million, brings the total funds for the upgradation programme to $483 million.
The prime minister also shared that US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome has conveyed to him that the western nation is engaged in the further extension program of the Tarbela Dam.
“It is time to further enhance and strengthen this friendship in the field of trade and investment,” said Shehbaz.