Economic challenges

There is a ray of hope for the overall national economy to build up after listening to the holistic correct approach of the finance minister to solve the teething national problems piled up owing to bad governance over the years . The minister appears to be clear headed and in a very short time of assuming the office , has correctly identified the grave problems facing the country . He has very capably outlined a workable road map to steer the country out of the woods and from its present state of quagmire and despondency. No doubt , the power sector is in a great mess and its problems are many and have been made highly complicated with each passing day . Some of its problems are solvable if there is administrative & a political will . These include massive power thefts , corruption and inefficiency . The government needs to root these out with a stern hand . Then there are technical and policy problems . Surplus or excess power is one of these . You have to pay capacity and fixed charges even if you are not utilising it . The government has not taken any measures or announced any policy for the fruitful utilisation of this surplus energy to eliminate the financial continuous burden on the exchequer. All the above items are contributing to the building up of the notorious Circular Debt . One of the ways to maximise the use of surplus power is to give special incentives and tariffs to export oriented industries to boost exports which is the ultimate awnser to lift the national economy . At the same time , foreign investors should be encouraged to put up their industries by offering them subsidised power tariffs , besides other attractive favourable terms and conditions . Another step could be to offer special reduced power tariffs for certain group of cosumers so that idol excess energy is profitably made use of . Even export of surplus power to the neighbouring countries should be explored , especially in view of launching of many new power generating projects and import of envisaged hydel power from Central Asia , which will further increase surplus power . The real benifits to the economy will accrue only when when our exports grow up . And one of the main ingredients in achieving this is the availability of affordable electrical power , which unfortunately in not in sight in the near future. Whether an affordable and cheaper power can be realised , is a big question mark and a challenge to the sitting government .
Engr Riaz Bhutta
Lahore

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