July 2 - 8, 20

Pakistan is among the few countries where power generation has declined in the last five years. According to the report, Pakistan generated only 89.1 terawatt hours of electricity in 2011 against 98.2 terawatt hours in 2007. On the other hand, electricity generation in Bangladesh increased from 31.3 terawatt hours in 2007 to 42.7 terawatt hours in 2011, in China from 3,281.6 terawatt hours to 4,700.1 terawatt hours and in India from 797.8 terawatt hours to 1,006.2 terawatt hours under the same period. Since 2007, India added over 300 terawatt hours, Indonesia 40 terawatt hours, and Malaysia 12.5 terawatt hours of electricity, while Pakistan reduced its generation by 9.1 terawatt hours from 2008 to 2011. The incumbent government claims that it has added 3,000 MW of electricity in the past four years, but the generation has actually declined, as is evident from long spells of load shedding.

The load shedding should be an eye opener for our planners especially, and generally for masses, who still consider that so called democratic government worked or thought for their betterment. Energy crisis has been destroying national economy and people are losing patience and indulging in violent activities due to prolonged load shedding. Side by side, unemployment rate is increasing rapidly but government seems unconcerned.

Pakistan is also facing huge gas shortfalls that rise to 1500 million meter cubic feet per day (mmcfd) in winter, which results in closure of all the industries in Punjab and 500mmcfd in summer resulting in 2 days closure every week for industry. The gas shortage has forced a number of industrial units to close down while delay in fulfilment of export consignments has become a matter of routine due to less supply and low pressure of natural gas.

Moreover, it has been reported that in small cities and towns of the country, the commodity continues to disappear for hours without prior intimation, thus badly affecting the domestic users as well as the public and private transport running on CNG. Under the government's 'Gas Load Management Plan', planned gas supply to the industries and CNG stations would be halted for two days a week. The plan looks ineffective.

Industries are facing worst crises due to electricity and gas shortages. Industrialists are paying double interest because industrial working days decreased to 150 days. Especially the textile industry reached the brink of disaster as a result of forced load shedding of electricity.

As per Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, country's textile exports fell by 10 per cent during eleven months (July-May) of the last financial year 2011-12 as they were recorded at $11.273 billion in period under review against $12.472 billion of same period last year. Textile exports would hit the overall exports, which already lead the country towards economic bankruptcy.

The government was playing havoc with the industry and exports. In their planning committee meetings, government agreed that load shedding would not exceed two hours for the industry, but in practice, more than 16 to 18 hours of irregular and frequent load shedding was being implemented. As a result, the production program of mills was totally disrupted and productivity had been reduced. It is a unique form of economic murder of industries by government policies. Government failed to realize that around 40 percent labour working in different industries and other sectors are daily wagers and in hasty manner, they are being pushes below the poverty line.

Persisting long hours load shedding has also paralysed activities of small business owners across Pakistan, including photostat, lathe machine, tailors, dry cleaners, photo studios, net cafes etc. Small business owners are already passing through difficult times. They are already facing adversity due to ever-increasing cost of living and now due to load shedding, they are facing a great deal of serious complication including declining sales, failing to complete customers' orders on time, facing problems to pay rent of shops, schools fee of children, and payment of electricity bills due to declining income and now increase in load shedding will further worsen their living condition.

Life of a common person is ruined by poor government policies. Health experts believe that hours long load shedding of electricity particularly at night is intensifying sleeplessness related medical and psychiatric disorders among population that would cause significant hindrance in the nation's way to progress both on short-term and long-term basis. Sleeplessness may cause serious complications among patients suffering from stomach-related problems, hypertension and heart-related problems while general population may face stress-related physical and mental disorders. All these, most alarmingly the unrest caused by the load shedding at night, are increasing psychological disorders among population by increasing level of stress, anger, and aggression.

Government seems to be unconcerned about the menacing problem and threat to the country's economy, as there seems to be no intervention from its side to protect the consumers. The only intervention is increase of power tariff under its monthly fuel adjustment formula. Government knew only one thing and that is to increase power and gas tariffs, increase sales tax, impose new taxes, bow down before IMF and World Bank, make huge expenses on their own living, and do lip service for public welfare.

Pakistan has not fully utilised its wind energy potential, whereas wind power generation stood at 1,600 MW in India and 62,412 MW in China in 2011. Despite knowing the fact that only Sindh possesses considerable potential of (50,000 MW) electricity generation through wind energy in southern Sindh, government failed to get one megawatt in its near ending 5-year tenure. The Gharo-Jhimpir wind corridor is blessed with monthly average wind speeds exceeding 7-8 meters per second.

The report further unveils that Pakistan does not produce biofuels energy while China produced 1,149,000 tons of oil equivalent bio fuels in 2011 and India produced 286,000 tons of oil equivalent biofuels in the same period.

Since 2007, hydropower generation has remained stagnant in Pakistan, as compared to other countries such as India and China. Pakistan generated 31.6 terawatt hours of hydropower in 2007, which declined to 30.6 terawatt hours in 2011 due to reduced water inflows. On the other hand, India generated 122 terawatt hours of hydropower in 2007, which increased to 131.6 terawatt hours in 2011. China increased its hydropower generation from 485 terawatt hours in 2007 to 685 terawatt hours in 2011. One can just amaze that having 100,000 MW hydro potential with identified sites of 55000 MW and our northern areas who possess about 60,000MW of cheaper hydro resources including over 25,000MW of simple run-of-the river.

By the end of 2011, gas reserves in Pakistan stood at 2,070 million tons, depicting a nominal increase of 0.2 percent over the previous year. In contrast, China increased its gas reserves by 13 percent to 11, 4500 million tons and India increased it by seven percent to 60,600 million tons by the end of 2011. With regard to different energy fuels, prices of coal rose from $88 to $121.54 per ton and crude oil from $72.39 to $111.26 per barrel in 2011. Meanwhile, the LNG price averaged 7.73 per million British thermal unit (BTU) in 2007 and $14.73 per million BTU in 2011.

Government also failed to utilise the real potential of solar energy. The South Western province of Balochistan and North Eastern part of Sindh offer excellent conditions for harnessing solar energy where sun shines between 7 and 8 hours daily or approximately more than 2300-2700 hours per annum.

We have come to the stage that India now offered cheap electricity to Pakistan to help overcome the lingering load-shedding problem. India's governments - central, state and local - took away 22 per cent of 2009-10 GDP: 16 per cent in the form of taxes and six per cent in other forms. Pakistan's governments managed to take away only 14 per cent: 10 per cent in taxes and four per cent in other ways.

Indian governments' expenditures came to a third of GDP. Pakistani governments' expenditure came to only a fifth. The ratio of current expenditure to GDP was not very different for the two countries: 14 per cent for India, 17 per cent for Pakistan. India spent 2.3 per cent of GDP on defence as against Pakistan's 2.5 per cent. Their expenditures on old-style government as a proportion of GDP were similar. What was different was the volume of development expenditure as a proportion of GDP - 31/2 for Pakistan, 19 per cent for India.

One can either take the government's claims at face value, and say that a third of this development expenditure went to social services, principally education and health, a quarter to energy, which is almost entirely in government ownership, and a sixth to transport, which includes railways, ports, and airports. The governments in India spend on a vastly larger scale than those in Pakistan on infrastructure and social services. One can take the cynical view and say that the Indian governments give politicians opportunities to enrich themselves on an enormously greater scale. Indian democracy works so much better than Pakistani because it is better lubricated with money.

It is a high time for those in power to take matter of load shedding seriously. Otherwise, the whole nations would have to suffer the consequences.