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Pakistan In Focus

ECONOMIC TIMES OF PAKISTAN
Businessmen asked to launch plastic bag substitutes

Industrialists must come forward to introduce substitutes for plastic bags, which are environment-friendly and degradable, said State Minster for Climate Change Zartaj Gul.

Addressing the business community at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), she said use of plastic bags would be banned in the near future and efforts were already afoot for systematic and planned tree plantations to overcome environmental pollution.

“Pakistan is ranked the seventh most vulnerable country facing the threat from global warming,” she said. “I have talked to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and he is ready to ban the use of plastic bags throughout the province,” she said and urged the industrialists to introduce new technology for replacing the plastic bags.

“In this connection, my ministry is ready to provide maximum guidance and incentives,” she remarked.

The state minister pointed out that smog threat was around the corner and asked the government and industrialists to work closely to tackle the problem which emerged in every winter in recent years.

“There are 30,000 industrial electricity connections in Pakistan but only 44 units have arrangements to treat their waste water,” she said while expressing concern.

Speaking on the occasion, the Ministry of Climate Change Environment Wing director general said the well-planned M3 industrial city was being established over 4,500 acres of land while a no-objection certificate for the Allama Iqbal Industrial Estate was under process.

The Allama Iqbal Industrial Estate will be established over an area of 3,300 acres. He pointed out that Faisalabad was the only city where a wastewater treatment plant had been functioning for the last many years at Chakera.

Hydel energy production hits historic high

Pakistan’s hydroelectric power production hit a historic high at 5,668 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in August 2019 as the environment-friendly and cheap energy resource made a major contribution to the total energy mix.

The high production from the renewable energy source helped reduce the country’s reliance on expensive oil-based power generation and slashed the overall cost of production by 13percent to Rs4.83 per unit.

“Hydel-based power generation registered an all-time high … during August 2019,” Arif Habib Limited analyst Rao Aamir Ali said while commenting on the electricity production data released recently by the regulator – the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).

The rise in hydel power generation came following the addition of new plants to the system which included the Neelum-Jhelum and Tarbela 4th Extension projects, he said.

The Neelum-Jhelum hydroelectric power project, with installed capacity of 969 megawatts, came on line in a phased manner between April and August 2018. On the other hand, the Tarbela 4th Extension hydroelectric power project, with production capacity of 1,410MW, started commercial operations in October 2018.

Widespread rains and improved water levels in dams helped achieve the historic high power production from the hydel plants this year.

The surge in hydroelectric power production also increased its share in the total electricity generation to an all-time peak at 40percent. This helped reduce reliance on expensive sources of power production like furnace oil and diesel as total generation remained almost flat at 14,052GWh in August this year compared to 14,017GWh in August last year.

“During the month, the share of hydel power generation rose to 40percent compared to 32percent in August 2018. In addition to this, the share of coal-based generation (another cheap source) increased to 13percent compared to 10percent in August 2018,” Ali said.

The share of furnace oil in overall power production dropped to 4percent compared to 12percent last year.

The government has chalked out a plan to phase out oil-based power generation and produce more electricity through cheaper, cleaner and renewable energy sources.

It, however, has missed some of the targets but has managed to increase production from the cheaper coal fuel. At the same time, it may have polluted the environment as coal is a dirty fuel.

Ogra proposes reduction of rs 2.55/ litre in petrol rate

The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) on Friday recommended the government to slash prices of petroleum products for October 2019 under the monthly price revision.

The oil and gas industry regulator, in a summary sent to the Petroleum Division, proposed a reduction of Rs2.55 per litre in the price of motor spirit (petrol) and Rs3.23 per litre in the price of high-speed diesel effective Tuesday (October 1).

Besides, Ogra recommended a reduction of Rs2.41 per litre in the price of light diesel oil (LDO). However, it suggested an increase of Rs1.19 per litre in the price of kerosene oil.

If the summary is accepted, the petrol price will come down to Rs110.69 per litre from existing Rs113.24 per litre whereas the diesel price will fall from Rs127.14 to Rs123.91 per litre.

In addition to these, the price of light diesel oil will come down to Rs89.48 per litre from the existing Rs91.89 whereas the kerosene oil price will go up from Rs99.57 to Rs100.76 per litre.

 

Cabinet rejects unrestricted powers to CPEC authority

The cabinet has turned down a plan for granting immunity to everyone on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority and unfettered powers to the authority for making regulations. Instead, the cabinet has formed a ministerial committee to examine the anomalies.

The anomalies in administrative structure of the CPEC Authority were pointed out in a recent meeting of the cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The cabinet considered recommendations of the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) for notifying and promulgating the CPEC Authority ordinance. The ordinance is aimed at setting up the authority for monitoring CPEC projects.

The cabinet committee made the recommendations after reviewing the draft legislation.

A memorandum of understanding for the CPEC project was signed by the governments of Pakistan and China. Focal ministries of Pakistan and China for the project were the Ministry of Planning and Development and the National Development and Reform Commission respectively.

It was also agreed to hold regular meetings of the Joint Cooperation Committee and establish working groups for different sectors.

In a summary sent to the cabinet, it was highlighted that CPEC was now going to enter the next phase where it would cover new areas such as trade and market access, industrial cooperation, socio-economic development, poverty alleviation, agriculture, Gwadar development, blue economy and regional connectivity. Under CPEC, now third parties will also be allowed to participate in the programme.

Earlier in a meeting held on May 20, 2019 and chaired by PM Imran, it was decided to establish the CPEC Authority. The National Development Council has approved the constitution of the authority in a bid to ensure fast-track implementation of CPEC projects.

WB lists Pakistan among top 20 worldwide reformers

The World Bank (WB) has listed Pakistan among the top 20 countries that introduced reforms in ease of doing business after the bank finally acknowledged some of initiatives that were undertaken early last year but were not fully appreciated in the previous report.

“With six reforms, Pakistan emerges among top 20 reformers globally in ease of doing business,” tweeted the WB’s Country Director to Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan also known as Illango on Friday.

Ilango also appreciated the collective actions taken by the governments in the Centre and Punjab and Sindh provinces. The actual ranking, based on these reforms, will be announced on October 24 when the WB would release its latest edition of Ease of Doing Business Index report.

The acknowledgement of reforms by the WB have rekindled hopes for major improvement in Pakistan’s ranking that currently stands at 136th among the club of 190 nations.

Pakistan signs contract with Singapore firm for LNG supply

Universal Gas Distribution Company (UGDC), set up by compressed natural gas (CNG) station operators, and leading Singapore-based commodity trading company Trafigura have inked a cooperation agreement for terminal capacity handling and supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Trafigura has a long-standing presence in Pakistan as it owns excess capacity, which has not been contracted by Pakistan LNG Terminals Limited (PLTL), at the terminal of Pakistan GasPort Consortium (PGPC). Trafigura will use some of its capacity for LNG import and sell the gas to UGDC. Earlier, UGDC signed an LNG import deal with US energy giant ExxonMobil.

The fresh agreement was signed by UGDC CEO Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha and Trafigura Business Development and Origination – LNG and Gas Head Fadi Mitri.

A Petroleum Division spokesperson stated that currently two LNG regasification terminals were operational in the country. At the first terminal, Engro Elengy Terminal Private Limited (EETPL) is the operator whereas Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) is the customer. At the second terminal, PGPC is the operator and PLTL is the customer.

Total peak LNG handling capacity of terminal one is 690 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) while SSGC has contracted regasification capacity of 630mmcfd with peak capacity at 690mmcfd.

Total handling capacity of terminal two is 750mmcfd, out of which PLTL has contracted capacity of 600mmcfd with peak capacity at 690mmcfd. There is spare capacity at the PGPC terminal for which the private sector is negotiating with PLTL for access to that capacity.

Speaking on the occasion, Paracha said according to the July 2019 decision of the Economic Coordination Committee and the cabinet’s decision of August 2019 the private sector could utilise additional capacity of LNG terminals.

Nepra tells k-e installed ‘dynamites’ in Karachi

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has said the K-Electric – the private power distribution company that supplies electricity to Karachi – has installed ‘dynamites’ in the city in the name of improving its distribution network.

“The K-Electric invested billions of rupees in wiring systems but still people are dying from its short circuits. It has installed dynamites in Karachi in the name improving system,” Nepra Chairman Tauseef H Farooqi told the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat on Thursday.

The committee was discussing the deaths – around 35 in number – caused during the recent rains in Karachi due to electrocution. Nepra chairman told the panel that the K-Electric was warned against any negligence with regard to its distribution network.

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