Asset 1

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Published Date: Dec 3, 2013

Pakistan : Energy Sector Appraisal

Introduction and Background

The Economic Survey of Pakistan  notes that during 2011-12  around USD 4.8 billion or 2% of gross  domestic  product (GDP) was  lost  due  to power  sector  outages. This is a major factor behind  Pakistan’s disappointing economic  performance over the past  5 years, with GDP growth averaging under 3% (GoP 2013).

The suppressed tariffs  and distortions created by untargeted subsidies in power, oil and gas sectors  have resulted in recurrence of circular  debt, political intervention in decisions regarding  sector-specific  allocation   of  fuel  and   breach   of  autonomy  of  regulatory authorities. Furthermore the  multiplication of players  at the  government level, currently dealing with the energy governance, has also prevented serious  private  sector  investors in taking  any interest towards investing  in a sector  exhibiting  growing  demand  and  supply gap.

Pakistan  traditionally relied on abundance of indigenous gas to generate a major chunk of its electric  power. These gas supplies  have long been  provided  to consumers at less than economic cost (Box 1). Even if the gas had to be subsidized there  is little economic logic in giving preference to sectors  already  posting  substantial profits  e.g. fertilizer, cement  and transport.1  The realization that  subsidized gas supplies  to transport should  be reduced given this sector’s already  dominant share  in oil consumption is very recent. This comes when  gas shortages have  led to closure  of over  10000  production units  (since  2009)  in industrial and services sector and affected over a million jobs.

Between  1994  and  2012  we see  that  household sector  has  seen  the  largest  increase  in percentage share  in electricity  consumption. While to  some  extent  this  is attributed to growing  population and  increased  electrification of peri-urban and  rural  areas, a  key economic  force  behind  this  trend   has  again  been  artificially  induced  lower  tariffs  for household consumers vis-à-vis commodity producing  or commercial services sectors  of the economy (Tariq et al. 2009).