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ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik on Tuesday said that the government is not deliberating on imposing any economic emergency in the country.

“The government recently paid $1 billion for Sukuk bonds. Pakistan has never defaulted in the past,” said the minister while talking to media persons here on Tuesday.

The minister further claimed that the US will not impose sanctions on Pakistan for the proposed deal of buying oil from Russia. A high-level delegation from Moscow will arrive in Islamabad on January 20.

Brushing aside claims of former Prime Minister Imran Khan about his alleged talks with Russia on oil import, Malik took credit for the proposed deal and said that the minutes of their meetings with Moscow officials can prove their claims. He said that the Ambassador of Russia said that they spoke to us about the gas pipeline.

Russia to provide crude oil to Pakistan at discounted rates: Musadik Malik

Did the Ambassador of Russia also misstate, he asked, adding that the government is discussing and finalising the deal for the purchase of oil and gas with Russia. By January 20, the details of the purchase of oil from Russia will be made public, Malik added.

Earlier, Malik said that the government is committed to completing the CASA-1000 and other clean energy projects as this would help save the future of the next generation.

He was speaking at a panel discussion titled: Energy Corridors: CASA 1000, on the second day of the 25th Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), and jointly held alongside UNESCAP’s 6th South and Southwest Asia High-level Political Forum and Policy Dialogue on SDGs.

The four-day conference is being held in Islamabad from 5-8 December 2022.

He said this year or by the next year, the government has plans to add 10,000MW of solar energy to the national grid that would help achieve the target of 30 percent renewable energy share by 2030. He said if Pakistan’s annual GDP grows by 5-6 percent, its annual energy demand would increase by 10-12 percent. He expressed disappointment over the lukewarm response of the IFIs and development partners over the developing countries’ call of financing mega clean energy projects.

He regretted that projects such as CASA-1000 and TAPI are facing delays because these projects pass through countries that are not finance-able.

“We have a young population which needs gainful employment and for that, we need to grow our GDP. For growing GDP, we need to grow our agriculture GDP, industrial and need to grow in all sectors,” said the minister, adding that the country needs a sustainable growth rate of 5-8 percent. For every percent growth in GDP, the country needs at least one and a half percent growth in energy supply. Linking the progress of the country with energy generation, he stated for every one percentage point increase in Pakistan’s economic growth, energy needs rise by 1-1.5 percent.

He further said that the lack of financing is a big hurdle and if the world is not willing to provide the funding. particularly debt, then how such dreams can be visualised.

Cecile Fruman, Director, Regional Integration and Engagement, South Asia, World Bank, pointed out that with over 215 million people living without access to electricity in South Asia, the energy demand is growing at a fast pace and it would double in a decade.

She said the region is highly dependent (80 percent) on fossil fuels in South and Central Asia and 63 percent of the region’s greenhouse gas emissions are due to electricity production. “But, the good news is that this region has tremendous renewable energy potential, which needs to be tapped.”

She said Pakistan has strong resources in terms of wind, biogas, solar, and hydropower-based clean energy. She said regional connectivity will provide a win-win situation for all to meet the growing energy needs. She said CASA-1000 energy project has been designed to supply 1300 MW of clean energy from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

She said 85 percent work on CASA-1000 energy project has been completed in Tajikistan, 55 percent in Kyrgyzstan, 60 percent in Pakistan, and only 20 percent in Afghanistan. However, she said this programme currently is on pause due to the situation in Afghanistan. “But we hope continued support from Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan would help continue this programme.”

“On CASA we all share the same wish certainly these investments have started and we all want it to be completed. From the World Bank’s perspective this programme is fully financed. The financing was not suspended and hoping efforts on your part – Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan continue to express to the international community your desire to see this programme completed,” said the World Bank official, adding that they are hoping the authorizing environment will be such that these investments can be completed. The financing is there. It is more now a matter of the authorizing environment to proceed”, she added.

Keeping in view the substantial benefits of the project, she feared if it is not implemented, there would be a loss of over one trillion dollars that would of course not be desired by anyone.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, executive director, SDPI said energy is one of areas that has greater importance, especially, its importance has increased manifold after the Russia-Ukraine war and climate change disasters.

To enhance regional trade and connectivity, he without naming SAARC suggested, we should keep on moving forward on regional cooperation on climate change, renewable energy, clean water supply, and other areas.

Dr Ghulam Samad, senior advisor and research fellow, Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program (CAREC), said the biggest implementation challenge for cross borders energy projects such as CASA-1000 is a security situation not only in Afghanistan but also on the border areas of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Hassan Daud Butt, former chairman KP Board of Investment, said that China likes rich and stable neighbourhood and a strong and prosperous Pakistan is in the benefit of China and other regional countries.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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