‘Chinese economic package to help control energy crisis’


LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that no effort will be spared for the complete implementation of the historic investment package of 32 billion dollars announced by China while expressing full confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. 
He was addressing a conference on development of captive power at a local hotel here on Wednesday. 
Speaking on the occasion, Shahbaz said that energy, infrastructure and development projects would be executed throughout the country under the investment package which would not only help overcome energy crisis but a new era of progress and prosperity will also usher in. He said shortage of electricity has caused irreparable damage to industry, agriculture, education, health and other sectors as well as national economy. He said that the rate of growth could not be increased due to shortage of power. “Therefore, government is taking all possible measures for controlling energy crisis as soon as possible.”
He said that industrialists, traders and investors would have to play their due role for coping with the problem of shortage of power.  He called upon private sector to make investment in energy sector and assured that all out facilities would be provided by the government.
During the two-day conference jointly arranged by the Punjab Energy Department and International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group), proposals and recommendations were formulated for development of captive power and energy projects. 
The chief minister welcomed the holding of the conference for development of captive power and said that solid strategy should be evolved in the light of recommendations and proposals presented in the conference. He said that energy is a vital importance for industrial, trade and economic activities and all out efforts are being made for resolving the problems of shortage of electricity. 
He said that there is a vast scope of generation of electricity from coal, solar, hydle, biomass, biogas, bigasse and other sources in Punjab and the government is making rapid progress in this direction. He stressed upon the industrialists to come forward for benefiting from these opportunities and assured that government will provide necessary facilities for this purpose. The chief minister said that work is in progress speedily on the projects of setting up of coal power plants at six places in Punjab. He said that government is setting up two power plants of 1320 megawatt in Sahiwal to be operated with coal with its own resources. 
He said that there is urgent need for electricity for industrial and domestic consumers therefore, power projects are being set up initially with imported coal and negotiations have been held with Ministry of Railways for the transportation of coal. He said that a high level committee headed by additional chief secretary (energy) was working on transportation of coal and the committee also includes representatives of federal institutions and stakeholders. Shahbaz Sharif said that there are vast reserves of coal in Pakistan and there is a need for modern technology for mining of coal. He said that local coal would be fully utilised for setting up energy projects. He said that China had made investment of billions of dollars in coal-based power generation projects in India. He said that China was a close friend of Pakistan and it could also benefit from Chinese technology. 
He said that complete homework, tireless efforts and professional approach were required for fully benefiting from the investment package of 32 billion dollars by China. He said that if Pakistan succeeded in benefiting from this package the course of history will be changed and a new era of progress will usher in the country. The chief minister further said that Punjab government has taken lead by launching Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur and it is setting up a 100-megawatt solar power plant in the park, which will start energy production by the end of current year. 
Replying to the questions of the participants, the chief minister said that government is providing facilities on priority basis for investment in energy sector therefore private sector should come forward for investment in energy sector. Replying to a question about Kala Bagh Dam, Shahbaz Sharif said that the importance of Kala Bagh Dam cannot be denied but this project can be executed only with national consensus, as nothing could be more important than national solidarity.
Water and Power Federal Secretary Saifullah Chattha while addressing the conference threw light on the measures taken by the federal government for resolving energy problem. He said that government paid circular debt during the last eight months, approved power policy, laid foundation stone of Tarbela-IV and started big projects of generation of electricity from coal and hydle power. He said that due to the measures taken by the government 1,800-megawatt additional electricity would be added to the national grid which will provide relief in load-shedding. He said that federal government led by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is taking all possible measures for resolving power crisis. Additional Chief Secretary Energy Jehanzeb Khan informed about energy projects in Punjab while the chief executive officer of the Quaid-i-Azam Solar Company informed about the progress on the Quaid-i-Azam Solar Project.

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