Government should exploit Indigenous Coal Reserves to Overcome Energy Crisis – Mian Shaukat Masud

  • July 13, 2009
Mian Shaukat Masud, President and Muhammad Ishtiaq Qureshi, Vice President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) in a joint statement called upon the Government to evolve a comprehensive strategy to exploit the indigenous coal reserves for generating cheap and dependable energy.

They said it was really pitiable that despite having total coal reserves of over 185 billion tons and being the sixth largest coal rich country in the world, Pakistan was still an energy deficit country, which showed our lack of planning and foresight to safeguard country’s interests.

Mian Shaukat Masud said Pakistan was spending about 60 – 65 per cent of its total foreign export earnings on oil imports despite having an aggregate energy potential exceeding the combined energy potential of the entire resources of Saudi Arabia and Iran, which was really deplorable.

Muhammad Ishtiaq Qureshi said a World Bank draft report on Pakistan’s Investment Climate has portrayed a dismal picture of the country’s power sector that is riddled with inefficiency and corruption, though the sector was selling electricity to consumers at a rate that is 60 percent higher than in India and 40 percent higher than in Bangladesh.

He said frequent power outages, totaling 945 hours in a year, led to pushing up the cost of production in the form of forced overtime, waste of material, damaged equipment and an added maintenance average of 10 percent of annual sales for manufacturing sector, which badly dented their profitability. He said higher tariff charged in the country has not only hit productivity in all sectors of the economy, it has also eroded competitiveness of our exports.

ICCI President said according to some estimates only the Thar coal field has the potential to generate 100,000 MW of electricity for 300 years and expressed wonder as to what was hindering the government from take advantage of this huge cheap energy source.

He said the use of oil-fired and gas-fired plants and even of rental power plants, has increased the cost of power generation, and hence the higher power tariff while levy of numerous taxes imposed by the government on POL products will further hike the cost of doing business in Pakistan. He said if the country’s economy was to be protected from further shocks and reverses, it was time that government should shun the ad-hoc policies and devise long-term plans to tap the country’s vast hydropower and coal potential