Pakistan News

PM Abbasi wants provinces to take over electricity, gas distribution

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday claimed to have controlled the chronic energy crisis at great personal risk, otherwise doing nothing was the best option for the bureaucracy in the atmosphere created by the judiciary and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Addressing a press conference held at the Prime Minister House to highlight the PML-N government’s achievements in the power sector, he said the credit for this honestly should be given to Nawaz Sharif who did all the planning and pursued it to control the menace of energy shortfalls while his ministers worked together to deliver the number of projects that was a record not only in Pakistan but perhaps in the world.

The prime minister said he had made a recommendation to the Council of Com­mon Interests and would advocate in future as well that the provinces should take over gas and electricity distribution in their respective areas because it had become impossible for the federal entities to operate in the provinces where they did not get any support from the police and local administration.

He deplored that the situation was such that dues of 60 per cent of electricity supplied to Khyber Pakhtu­nkhwa through the Pesha­war Electric Supply Com­pany could not be recovered and the provincial government was working against the interest of the federal entities. Therefore, he said, the provinces should take responsibility for distribution of electricity and recovery of dues, while the Centre would generate electricity and make it available to the provinces.

He said that for the first time in the country’s history the Centre had allocated 100 million cubic feet per day natural gas for KP, but the provincial government had failed to set up a single power plant over the past four years.

The prime minister said he was not blaming NAB but talking about an attitude in which every officer was called, humiliated and threatened instead of questioning based on better investigation. He said NAB should write a letter to the federal secretary or the minister and ask questions, but it was unfair to shift thousands of official files and papers from here to there to create an atmosphere where taking no decision became the best option for the bureaucracy.

“Countries are not run like this,” he regretted and said he had offered NAB to answer any question but officers should not be humiliated. Despite all this, he added, the PML-N ministers wrote decisions on files and took personal risks to deliver power projects of 10,000MW in four years. “I am not ashamed and have no regrets, worked to the best of capacity and the decision is now up to the people,” he said.

The prime minister said the country’s total power generation capacity stood at 16,400MW in 2013 which increased to 28,400MW. This, he explained, included a few carryover projects of the previous government, while the current government planned, executed and delivered more than 10,400MW.

The peak power generation in April 2013 was 11,731MW that increased to 18,600MW, showing an increase of about 6,000MW, he said. Likewise, he added, the actual power supply stood at 9.9 billion units (kWh) in May 2013, which increased to 14.6bn units, an increase of 50pc.

This was despite the fact that hydropower generation was the lowest this year due to water shortage, the prime minister said, adding that hydropower supply, which stood at 5,099MW in 2013 and 6,040MW in 2017, dropped to 3,090MW this year.

Mr Abbasi claimed that there was no gap in power supply at present as surplus generation was available, but there would be 362MW shortfall in June and 403MW in July when generation would be 22,176MW and demand 22,536MW.

He said the peak demand had become difficult after increased power supply because the country was in a suppressed demand cycle previously and people started buying air-conditioners and closing down their generators. The demand, he said, had increased from 15,800MW in 2013 to 24,800MW on Monday which was a record.

Mr Abbasi claimed that the government had not only met the current demand but also streamlined projects for the next 10-15 years. The upcoming plants would deliver additional 10,687MW by 2020 and 17,190MW by 2025. He said that about 6,745MW was currently being produced on LNG, otherwise the country would have been facing six to seven hours of additional loadshedding.

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