Government in Pakistan committed to steering country out of energy crisis
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal has said that the present democratic government is working with commitment to steer the country out of energy crisis, adding that infrastructure development is being carried out to improve transmission and distribution system. He was speaking as the chief guest at the inaugural session of 2nd Pakistan Urban Forum – South Asian Cities Conference, being organised by Urban Policy & Strategic Planning – P&D Department Sindh in collaboration with The Urban Unit – P&D Department, Punjab, at Frere Hall here on Friday. Ahsan Iqbal said that Pakistan has fragile power transmission and distribution system. “We have not invested in the uplift of infrastructure in the country during the past regimes. If a miracle happens today and the country starts producing thousands of megawatts electricity, our transmission and distribution is not capable enough to store and transmit this energy,” the minister added. He said that the PML-N led government was exploring the resources to produce cheapest energy. “Government has started work on coal-based power projects and hydel power projects to improve power generation in country,” he said, adding that work on construction of Daso and Basha Dam has been initiated. He said that government has expedited its efforts to acquire land for Basha Dam. “Government is also co-ordinating with World Bank for this purpose,” he added. He said that Thar Coal project would also be commenced soon. Ahsan Iqbal maintained that Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) would be restored with the co-operation of Japanese Companies. He said that government is creating indigenous model of growth as exogenously driven growth rate is not sustainable. Referring to the urbanisation issues, he said Pakistan has experienced a large increase in population over past five decades. “The average population growth rate is around 3.5 percent per year for urban areas. It stands among the countries of South Asia where urbanization rate is increasing rapidly,” he said. He further said that government is also focusing to improve its tax network as Pakistan has emerged one of the lowest tax-paying countries. He said that government would soon complete Lahore- Karachi Motorway, that would be extended to Peshawar which will strengthen inter-provincial communication system. He said that government would also bring transparency in public sector organisation. The conference will continue till Sunday. The main themes that will be discussed in the conference include city governance, urban economy and infrastructure, histories of South Asian cities, conservation of environment, health, water and sanitation, housing, city and culture, urban energy and urban disaster risk management. On this occasion, Country Director of World Bank Rachid Benmessaoud said that urban governance should be improved in Pakistan. “Timely reforms in Urban sector are very important,” he added. He said that Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif has taken some decisive and difficult steps to improve the national economy. Dr Nasir Javed, Dr Jincheol JO also spoke.