Energy crisis, insecurity top constraints in growth during last five years

March 16, 2013 Off By Web Desk

LAHORE: Terming insecurity and energy crisis as top constraints in economic growth during last five-year tenure of the PPP-led coalition government, the All Pakistan Business Forum has asked all leading political parties to spell out their priorities before going for general elections.

“After taking the responsibilities, the new government will have to concentrate on energy – the mother of all economic ills. While drafting their election manifesto all political parties should prepare viable proposals in collaboration with energy experts and leading businessmen to be implemented by the government after coming into power, suggested APBF chairman.

The chairman, Syed Nabeel Hashmi, reviewing the five years period of the present government, observed that the overall business contracted primarily due to energy crisis coupled with law and order issues.

Taking a strong exception to severe energy crisis, he suggested the government to hand over power distribution as well as management system to provinces which is the best possible solution to rid the country of prevailing energy crisis.

Mr. Hashmi said that under the present government, the power sector is at the top of the list of hurdles crippling industries. He warned that the economy is in serious trouble, as it experienced the lowest growth period in country’s history. He said inflation remained in double digits during past five years; while deficit remained at unbearable 67 per cent of the GDP.

He said that APBF would not play the role of silent spectator on the issue of massive gas and electricity load shedding for the Punjab industry.

APBF chairman said that the country spends 7.5 per cent of GDP on buying fuel due to soaring energy crisis while power cuts have shaved three to four per cent of GDP, with industry bearing the brunt.

Mr. Hashmi termed the energy crisis as the biggest challenge confronting the country and called for simultaneously launching short-term and long-term power projects to overcome the problem.

A permanent solution to the country’s energy crisis is direly needed,” he said stressing the need for making rebuilding and modernising national economy the top priority, he said that without energy, all economic plans would remain unfulfilled.

APBF central president Rashid Mehr said that political parties should work seriously to develop comprehensive short-term and medium term strategies to ensure adequate supply of electricity and gas at affordable prices to average citizen and to agricultural and industrial consumers. He said that concrete steps were needed to reduce the circular debt, which was hampering the country’s economic development.

He said that the federal govt., which presently controlled the load management as well as power distribution system, continued to penalize those consumers, who pay their bills regularly, by imposing fuel adjustment surcharge.

In view of enhancing revenue and checking power theft, he opined that load management and distribution structure must not be with the centre, advising the authorities to allocate electricity load to each province as per the payment, besides distributing power at local levels.

He asked the government to devise such a scheme which ensured steady supply for those who pay their bills regularly. This step by the government would discourage the culture of power theft and non-payment of bills, besides enhancing revenue to get rid of the circular debt, which had enslaved the whole energy system in the country.

Rashid Mehr urged political parties to give top priority to allocate funds in the forthcoming budget for new power projects and construction of new dams to generate cheap and sufficient electricity.