According to a conservative estimate, Pakistan loses approximately 2 percent of its GDP growth every year by virtue of energy conundrum. This issue has persisted for last two decades, to say the least. As per the world standards, even the worst problems can be addressed in less than a decade. Pakistan’s energy issues seem far from over. A deluge of empty promises have been made by successive governments over the period regarding the elimination of electricity load shedding but in vain.
Pakistan’s energy policies in multifarious tenures seem to be only on paper. National Energy Policy 2013-18 during the preceding Government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was announced with much fanfare. ‘Roshan Pakistan’ was the slogan and there was emphasis on the energy challenges and energy management. It was proclaimed that there would be amend to load shedding till 2017 and surplus electricity would be available in 2018. Someone needs to answer this since load shedding is as prevalent today as it was in 2013 and prior to it.
Energy Policy 2010-13 was announced during the tenure of Pakistan Peoples’ Party. A three-day national energy conference was held in Islamabad under the auspices of Yousuf Raza Gilani, the then prime minister. Energy experts were invited with inundation of fanfare and the promises never to be fulfilled were made. The energy minister used to reiterate on national media regarding the efficacy of policy and the subsequent benefits. The energy minister used to announce the month and the year for the abolition of the energy crisis. Nothing concrete was witnessed except the promises.
Moreover former prime minister Shaukat Aziz in 2005 came up with the so-called long-term energy security program with the robust focus on the development of the power infrastructure and privatization of the energy sector. It was envisaged that the long-awaited abundance of energy would be ensured in the not-too-distant future. Result is still awaited.
Energy policy in 1994 by the late Prime Minister Ms. Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan Peoples’ Party received a widespread denunciation by various quarters in those days, however, there are mixed opinions about the policy today. It is deemed Pakistan’s first ever and the largest energy conservation program to produce 13,000MW.
In the 1960s, the focus was on the production of electricity through the hydroelectric dams and thermal power stations. In the following two decades, nuclear sources also chipped in.
The incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan has recently directed the concerned authorities to finalize the policy on renewable energy and has underscored the need for improved coordination between the relevant departments. It is to be seen in the days to come that how the instructions of the premiere are implemented. The coordination and cohesiveness are very imperative among the Ministry of Water and Power, Alternative Energy Development Board, Industrial Energy Sector, Energy and Power Regulatory authorities, Water and Power Development Authority, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, Energy corporations etc.
The incumbent government has got an enormous challenge to ensure the generation of inexpensive and affordable electricity for domestic, commercial and industrial use, minimize pilferage etc.
It is a fact that energy policy requires the proper legislation, international treaties, subsidies and incentives to investment, guidelines for energy conservation, taxation and other public policy techniques. The government could address the long-standing energy issues with proper realistic strategies with a prime focus on Generation Strategy, Transmission Strategy, Distribution Strategy, Financial Efficiency Strategy, Governance Strategy etc.
Every country needs to develop its energy policy as per its requirement to spur the economic growth. National Energy Policy of India focuses on 100 percent national electrification by 2022 with a 24×7 available supply. India’s energy policy has been chalked out to support the economic growth. Energy Policy of Bangladesh has benefited it in terms of increase in exports. Natural gas accounts for about 70 percent of Bangladesh’s commercial energy supply. Energy policymaking in China is largely decentralized. Coal accounts for 70 percent of China’s primary energy needs and represents 80 percent of the fuel used in electricity generation. China is the world’s leading renewable energy producer, with an installed capacity of 152 GW. China has been investing heavily in the renewable energy field in recent years.
Pakistan is blessed with the wind, solar, tidal etc. opportunities to address the undying energy shortages which have crippled the economy particularly over the period of last two decades. There is a beacon of hope that the recent developments would be quite helpful in boosting the energy generation eventually leading the economy to the path of progress. Pakistan may benefit to the hilt in case focus is on the indigenous resources rather than importing expensive energy at the expense of economic slowdown.