INTERVIEW WITH SYED JOHAR ALI QANDHARI, CHAIRMAN KORANGI ASSOCIATION OF TRADE & INDUSTRY

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Oct 24 - 30, 20
11

PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF.

MR. QANDHARI: I belong to a business family. My grandfather started trading business, which was later converted by my father into production of flour. And, presently we are running a flour mill, and are involved in textile and rice business. I got my basic education from Karachi and later obtained law degree from Oxford UK. I also have the honor to serve Pakistan Flour Mills Association and Korangi Association of Trade & industry as chairman.

PAGE: IT IS A COMMON PERCEPTION THAT PAKISTAN HAS BEEN FACING AN ENERGY CRISIS SINCE 2007. THE MAIN REASON FOR THE CURRENT CRISIS IS THAT IN THE PAST NO EFFORTS WERE MADE TO ENSURE INCREASE IN POWER GENERATION CAPACITY. WHAT DO YOU SAY?

MR. QANDHARI: The real crisis began in 2009 as we see the figures of demand and supply of energy in 2009. We saw a very narrow gap that was only 1300MW, which was not a big difference considering the population of the country, but unfortunately, the difference was widened with the passage of time and in 2010 the gap rose to 5400 MW. Our capacity to produce energy was 17000 MW in 2009 and increased to 19000 in 2010, up 2000 MW but demand increased from 18300 MW to 24400 MW in the similar period indicating a rise of 6100 MW.

PAGE: WOULD IT BE RIGHT TO SAY THAT NOT ONLY ECONOMIC GROWTH BUT ALSO POLITICAL STABILITY IS LINKED WITH THE AVAILABILITY OF ENERGY RESOURCES?

MR. QANDHARI: Yes. The demand is increasing day by day obviously due to increase in population and upsurge in standard of living specially in urban areas of the country. The projected demand in 2015 will be 36217 MW and 54000 in 2020. And, if we do not plan to meet these demands, definitely it would affect economic as well as political stability of the country. The political stability and economic growth are two sides of one coin. If one goes well other follows and if one goes wrong, other faces the same fate. So we have to find ways and means to cater our projected energy demands if we want to stay stable.

PAGE: WAPDA AND KESC PURCHASE EXPENSIVE OIL AND TRANSFER THE COST TO THE CONSUMERS. WHAT ARE YOUR COMMENTS?

MR. QANDHARI: This is very unfortunate. Both the institutions, especially Wapda, pass the cost of line losses, mismanagement, and bad governance to the poor consumers which increase the energy cost.

PAGE: THE GOVERNMENT MUST SPEED UP THE PROCESS OF UTILIZING THE SUBSTITUTES INCLUDING NUCLEAR, GAS EXPLORATION AND IMPORT, SOLAR, COAL, AND WIND. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THIS?

MR. QANDHARI: The entire world for last fifty years or so is working on diversifying energy sources. Many successful models are in front of us. But again, we are not seriously working on any of these sources. Reasons are best known to you and me: unstable government; corrupt and incompetent bureaucracy etc.

PAGE: ENERGY CRISES DESTROY AT LEAST 50 PER CENT OF THE INDUSTRIAL SECTOR THAT LEADS TO INCREASE IN THE RATE OF UNEMPLOYMENT. YOU MUST KNOW THE OTHER FALLOUTS OF THESE ON THE SOCIETY AND THE ECONOMY. ANY COMMENT?

MR. QANDHARI: Yes, I agree, energy is the single most important factor for survival of the industrial sector. The cost of manufacturing is directly proportionate to the cost of energy. At present, an average fixed income person pays around 30 per cent of his income only on energy as compared to five per cent few years back. And, this has badly affected the purchasing power of the public.