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Pakistan Observer

Published Date: Apr 26, 2013

Energy, economic crisis outcome of mismanagement, lack of accountability: Speakers

Speakers
at a discussion entitled on energy and economic crisis said only a change of
attitude and life style can help overcome this national level crisis. They said
the reasons behind energy and economic crisis are poor management, lopsided
priorities and lack of accountability.

The
dialogue series on the energy and economic crisis here on Thursday was first of
the series of dialogue organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute
(SDPI) in coordination with South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA).

Zia
Ud Din Ahmed, Executive Editor, Daily Express Tribune moderated the
proceedings.

Dr. Abid Q Suleri, Executive Director SDPI, while discussing the issue with
participants from cross-section of society said that in the last 5 year GDP
growth in Pakistan is facing boom and bust phenomena. Decline in GDP growth has
been observed in previous years, which at present stood at 3 percent now.
However, he said, it is important to know that consumption is leading our GDP
growth other than manufacturing, production or industry. He said that poor tax
policies, power sector issues and weak governance are reflecting our weak
fiscal health. Dr.Suleri gave an insight about future by saying that the
upcoming government has to face a challenging situation due to power sector
circular debt, stock of unpaid commodities, PSE contribution towards fiscal
deficit and devaluation of currency. “It is continuous 4th year gwe are
witnessing low GDP growth due to energy crisis”, lamented Dr Suleri. Further he
added that Nepra has come to 88 percent deficit in collection and transmission
losses. Giving solution to the problem, he said, Nepra has to be depoliticized
and made an independent authority.

He
also demanded reduction in the cost of generation of electricity, improvement
in hydro generation and building of large dams. “Water supply is poor in the
country which can also affect our agriculture and food security. He suggested
that the next government has to learn from the mistakes of previous governments
and has to propose a reform agenda without being biased to provinces. “Reform
the PSE, promote public private partnership, rationalize the procurement of
sugar and end this SRO culture”, he stressed.

Jan
Achakzai, renowned economist said that Pakistan is facing serious energy crisis
that is affecting its economy and the various sections of the society. The
political leadership needs to engage itself in policy planning immediately
besides helping the country attract much need investment in different sectors.
He cited the example of Argentina and Greece economic decline in this regard and
suggested that Pakistan need to avoid falling in such a situation at all costs.
“To avoid this situation we have to change our economic policies radically with
the help of expert’s input and resource mobilization” said Achakzai. While
talking about tax collection he said that only salaried classes are paying taxes
while rich and influential including bigmost business houses are not included
in the tax net.

Dr.
Vaqar Ahmed, Deputy Executive Director SDPI while deliberating upon the
solution aspect of the matter proposed various strategies. He suggested that
Pakistan has to follow the integrated plan proposed by previous government and
also consolidate all the energy ministries and departments into one ministry.
He gave the example of India which rightly and timely deregulated its energy
sector. He said that India, United State, China and Germany have expressed
interest to invest in Pakistan’s energy sector but for that we need pricing and
operation reform, control on line loss, reform for attracting investment in
energy sector and developing a clear audit system. He stressed the need for
making energy conservation a priority at government and non-government level
beside addressing the circular debt issue. He criticized the role of Pakistani
academia on energy sector and said not a single research paper has been
originated and published by them on the energy crisis.

Speaking
as discussant Mubarak Zeb, a senior journalist said that unprecedented
devaluation of currency, incidence of taxation, special tax on petroleum
increases the price of petroleum rate in domestic market.