As part of a plan devised by the centre to immediately convert all federal government buildings to solar power by April 2023 in an effort to reduce the costly fuel import bill of around $27 billion, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called solarisation the only option for survival.
It was the prime minister’s intention to unveil further details at a solarisation conference, when he said that the procedures for converting solar power should be expedited as April 2023 has been set as the deadline. According to the plan, all federal government ministries, departments, authorities, and their offshoots in the provinces would switch to solar energy immediately, according to the prime minister. The federal government would “not make additional expenditures” over the process of solarisation, he said.
Furthermore, the prime minister urged all relevant authorities and stakeholders to complete the process by the end of April next year. He opined, “It is our political, social, national, and religious duty to implement it as soon as possible.”
Using these urgent measures, the government can generate 300 MW to 500 MW of cheap power, resulting in a reduction in the government’s annual import bill of billions of dollars. In his speech, the prime minister assured that a third party would conduct a transparent bidding process. Furthermore, he assured that the centre would provide full assistance to the provincial chief ministers if they followed the federal government’s lead and rolled out solar systems in their respective provinces.
“This is the only option for our survival as a nation,” he explained.
As a first step toward the generation of 10, 000MW of solar power in the country, the prime minister said that a conversation by federal government buildings had already begun. According to him, developing countries like Pakistan had to bear the brunt of skyrocketing fuel and gas prices after the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Adding that the ongoing conflict has also increased the price of gas and made it harder to access, as the supply to Europe was disrupted, the $27 billion fuel import bill is a big challenge for countries like Pakistan.
According to the Prime Minister, during the COVID pandemic, gas prices crashed to the lowest and it was sold for $2 per unit, but the then-government failed to secure its import, and as a result, the whole country is suffering. A 15-year deal to buy LNG from Qatar at 13.2% of the Brent was reached during the tenure of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, but it was politicized by the PTI government. As a result of the global crisis, gas isn’t available anymore, and fuel is being sold at a high price on the global market, he said, adding that the government must switch to solar and renewable energy as quickly as possible.
In the previous PML-N government, efforts were made to produce cheap hydroelectric power and land worth Rs100 billion was acquired for the construction of the Bhasha dam, but these were long-term measures to make the country’s power affordable.
In 2015, the PML-N government completed coal and gas-fired projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to overcome 20 hours of crippling power outages. According to the prime minister, the country’s exports plummeted and the green lands became barren.
Several previous governments in the country had failed to carry out reforms, which resulted in the circular debt and expensive power generation.
In addition to power theft, transmission losses, and expensive fuels, he said that the circular debt in the power sector reached Rs2.5 trillion and that the circular debt in the gas sector was also spiraling.
He regretted that governments had not introduced reforms to reduce the circular debt due to lack of responsibility and a backlog of years.
With a commitment to slowly and gradually overcome a mountain of challenges, he said the federal coalition government was an 8-month-old nascent one.
The PTI, the IMF, and failed policies
The prime minister said the NAB-Niazi connivance pushed the country into economic and political chaos, criticizing the PTI government. “Unfortunately, he will regretfully state that a witch hunt was carried out and that a vendetta against politicians was unleashed in the name of accountability.”
Public servants were disheartened and government officials faced NAB. It was fascist vengeance, he said.
The prime minister, referring to current economic challenges, maintained that the entire nation was expecting the government to give them respite from the price hike. Pakistan could not develop if it had to pay $27 billion for expensive fuel and spend its local resources on its import.
Only if the country conserved resources properly, such as solar and renewable resources, would it be able to generate inexpensive electricity.
The coalition government never wanted to transfer the burden of price hikes. The PTI government blatantly breached the agreement with the IMF.
As a result, the prime minister regretted having to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if the government wanted to give a subsidy to any sector.
He praised the Pakistani nation for its patience in enduring the burden of the price hike and said they had no alternative but to implement the IMF programme.
SOURCE: GEO NEWS