Provinces, big firms involved in power theft: Asif

* Minister says government is contemplating to completely stop power supply to the areas where power theft continues

ISLAMABAD: Triggering a fresh controversy, a federal minister has alleged that some big guns are behind the unabated power theft in the country, while admitting the government’s failure in convincing the provinces to pay outstanding power dues through the federal adjuster.
The minister levelled these allegations while talking to the media persons at the first meeting of Energy Planning Working Group of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He claimed that the provincial governments and big organisations are involved in power theft, while provinces do not agree to paying power dues through federal adjuster. He also said that the federal government is interested in clearing power dues of the provinces through the federal adjuster.
Admitting the government’s failure to control the rising power theft and line losses, Khawaja Muhammad Asif deplored that a complete end to circular debt and line losses within a year is not possible, however, strict measures are under consideration to curb the menace of power theft. He also said that the government is contemplating to completely stop power supply to the areas where power theft continues.
Giving details of Pak-China energy cooperation, Khawaja Asif said that the energy plan with China has been divided into three parts. In the first part, the projects of coal, wind, solar and hydropower of about 7000MW will be initiated this year in September, and completed in the next three years. In the second part, the projects would be started to be completed in five years, and in the third phase projects would be started to be completed in seven year. 
He said that the projects of 21,690MW would be undertaken with the assistance of China under the CPEC plan. After completion, load shedding will end. The generous investment of China in the power sector of the country would help assist in controlling energy crisis of the energy-starved country, Asif added. The power minister said Pakistan has achieved a position that enabled it to enhance power generation capacity. He said the incumbent government wants to ensure energy security and an end to gap between the demand and supply of power, while investment in the power sector is the first priority.
“The government is paying great attention to the alternative energy projects of wind, solar and hydropower,” Asif said, adding that the government has made plans to lay transmission lines and designing of power plants. Chinese Vice Administrator of NEA of China in his address also agreed with the proposal of the minister for water and power regarding early completion of the mature projects to be completed in 2017. He said that the National Energy Administration (NEA) is responsible for implementation of the projects. 
He said that the government of Pakistan would guarantee the projects and allow incentives to the Chinese investors. Many companies are keen to invest in the power sector of Pakistan. He invited the Pakistani delegation to visit China to discuss the projects to be early harvested in November-December. He said that out of 25 projects 16 are early harvest projects of 21,690MW. Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, who was present on the occasion, said that China would become the leading partner with the establishment of economic corridor besides strengthening the bi-lateral relationship of two countries. 
He also said that energy projects are essential for economic corridor. “There would be a great welcome to the president of China when His Excellency (HE) would come here to inaugurate the power projects,” Ahsan said, adding, “The Chinese interest in various sector, especially the power sector, shows that the darkness would soon come to end.” He also suggested that videoconference on weekly basis to review the progress of the work. He said that both sides should expedite the work on the projects, which are on advance stage so that their ground breaking may be performed during the visit of Chinese prime minister.

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