Pakistan power crisis looms


The stalled progress of hydro-electric and thermal projects is contributing to the Pakistan power crisis that seems to be looming large on the horizon.

Important energy programs are being delayed for a number of reasons, including bureaucratic hesitation, a lack of political will and consensus and a lack of private-sector interest, causing the country’s chronic power shortage to reach critical proportions. There have been previous discussions about the sale of surplus gas to India, but that idea seems to have floundered and the official regulatory body for the power sector, NEPRA, does not have the autonomy it needs to impose a national price structure for Pakistan’s energy products.

In his paper titled ‘The Weight of History: Pakistan’s energy Problems’, economist Shahid Javed Burki focuses on the failure of political will to implement the policies necessary to meet energy requirements. He observes, $quot;During this period of economic stabilisation [1999-2002], the IMF forced constraints on the public sector, and the share of public sector development program (PSDP) declined to a historic low of two per cent of GDP – it had reached almost 11 per cent under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1971-77). Energy, and electric power in particular, was one sector that suffered.$quot;

Suggestions have surfaced regarding the need to utilise alternative and renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power, though the global demand for windmills and solar panels has greatly increased and delayed their availability as a result. Even if approval was gained for such technology, it could take years for the projects to start producing electricity.

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