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  #11  
Old Saturday, April 21, 2012
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No answers to energy crisis
April 20, 2012
By Dr M. Asif

THE energy crisis being faced by Pakistan and the consequent suffering being inflicted on the populace appears to be getting worse with every passing day.

The country’s policymakers and those taking the decisions have been unable to address the problem, and the crisis is now in its sixth year. None of the plans or initiatives that have been announced during this period have worked, and some have actually made matters more complicated, a case in point being the rental power projects.

The national energy conference convened by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani earlier this month concluded on a note similar to that of the earlier conference in 2010.

The initiatives that have been announced echo those taken during the 2010 moot: a two-day weekend for public-sector offices, 50 per cent energy saving in these buildings, the termination of power supply to signboards and the closure of commercial markets at 8pm.

It has also been decided that payments will be released to power companies, ageing power plants will be revamped, unregulated or unannounced loadshedding will be curtailed and that all these developments will be monitored closely. The other ideas discussed by the conference, including the distribution of energy-savers, checking leakages along the energy grid and switching to daylight saving, are not new either.

Have decisions that will actually make a difference been taken at this conference? A simple way of projecting the likely success of the announced initiatives is to look at what the 2010 conference accomplished. None of its initiatives were implemented and the energy crisis has only grown in proportions.

Over the last two years, for example, the electricity shortfall has grown from over 5,000MW to over 6,000MW. Even conservative estimates suggest that since 2010, the energy crisis has cost the national economy around Rs1,500bn and around 200,000 industrial workers have lost their jobs.

The obvious failure of earlier efforts to address the situation and the subsequent attitude of the authorities concerned leave little room to be optimistic about the results the recent conference may produce. Media reports say that a senior politician suggested that the long-standing issue of circular debt be resolved.

This was one of the most genuine ideas presented at this conference but alarmingly, it was rejected without due deliberation.
That does not give a very healthy impression about the intentions of those that convened the conference. Equally worrying is the fact that the real issue — poor governance — has once again been overlooked totally.

On the face of it, the energy crisis is an issue of both the availability and the affordability of electricity. Despite the very technical nature of the subject at hand, the crux of the matter is that the situation has less to do with technical issue than with issues of governance. The energy crisis has actually been created and then fostered by bad governance.

The energy sector has been a victim of the erroneous formulation of policy and poor decision-making. Particularly over the last three decades, the sector has more or less been run on an ad hoc basis.

Concepts such as sustainable and value-engineered solutions seem to have eluded the policy planners, and characteristics such as professional integrity and ethicality have become extremely scarce at the decision-making level. Little wonder, then, that the pursuit of personal and political interests, political interference and financial and administrative irregularities, including nepotism and corruption, have brought the energy sector to the current pass.

The mindset of the policymakers was reflected just a few days ago at the conference: one planning official declared that “the energy crisis is because of an intellectual crisis in the country”.

Asked to revisit his judgment and refrain from ignoring the role played by poor governance and its rewards such as the lack of commitment and professional integrity at the decision-making level, he remained adamant. He taunted the attendees by asking:
“Is there anybody in the conference hall who can speak proper English?”

It is the authorities’ chronic habit to come up with lame excuses to gloss over their incompetence and malpractice, but even by that standard such a remark must be considered bizarre.

Clearly, this official forgot that he was addressing a gathering of highly qualified professionals and scientists, many of whom received their qualifications from the best universities in the world. He didn’t realise, no doubt, that hardly any room is left for such trained experts to help the country when at the top level, matters are run in the manner that are hardly professional.

Yet the decision-makers are mistaken if they think they can continue to run the energy sector in such a poor fashion. At both the macro and the micro levels, the economic situation in the country can simply not afford the impact of a poorly run energy sector over a long period of time.

The trajectory of the violent protests against loadshedding in recent months suggests that matters may spiral rapidly out of control, resulting in chaos and causing irreparable damage on many fronts.

The challenges posed by the country’s energy situation are undoubtedly grave, but they can be tackled. The gap between the demand and supply can be efficiently bridged and the affordability of energy can be improved. In actual fact, Pakistan has sufficient and diverse energy resources and capable manpower. What is lacking is commitment and vision at the policymaking level. Unless that is addressed, no matter what solutions are presented, they will all prove illusionary.

The writer is an associate professor at the Glasgow Caledonian University, UK, and is the author of Energy Crisis in Pakistan: Origins, Challenges and Sustainable Solutions.

dr.m.asif@gmail.com
-Dawn
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  #12  
Old Tuesday, May 15, 2012
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Electricity Mayhem in Pakistan
May 14, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
Exclusive Article

Summer’s scorching heat and acute power shortage have both peaked in Pakistan. People are frantically running helter-skelter as if the doomsday was at hand. The hapless country is awash with panicked and frenzied citizens driven out of their suffocating dwellings to protest and vent their outrage about the deepening calamity. It is unthinkable to live in a modern age without fuel and modest comforts that come from electricity.

Almost half of country’s power generation capacity is drastically dwindled. Of late it is estimated to be at 7200 MG. If electric power remains intact, the water could reach the reservoirs, the overhead water tanks and then to the consumers. With the steep shortfall of electricity, the water scarcity too has assumed monstrous proportions.

The taps in most of the urban houses have gone dry. As such there is no water to take shower, to cook a meal, prepare breakfast for the school going children and working members of the family. The cloths and the linen cannot be washed and the toilets remain unclean.

Those who exude their optimism in the glorious future of Pakistan as a modern welfare state with robust economy and well entrenched democratic system are either in the habit of wishful thinking, suffer from flawed vision or deliberately paint a rosy picture. If from the functioning of the state institutions to the availability of basic utilities is in tatters, only a myopic person could afford the luxury of day- dreaming of stable, ensured and prosperous destiny for Pakistan.

The rental power units that were hired by the incumbent government have been miserably non -starters from the beginning. Most of contractors of these white elephants units, pocketed huge amount of money in advance and then went into a cozy slumber. They did not bother to produce power for which they were heftily paid. They failed to provide even a modicum of relief to the load-shedding stricken people of Pakistan.

The three nuclear power plants produce 2 per cent of the whole generation of the electric power. The rest is produced from the fossil fuels (65 %), hydroelectric (33 %) and from coal (03%).In several preceding decades, no new big dam has been commissioned or constructed to beef up the power generation. The two main dams namely Tarbela and Tarbela, Ghazi Brotha hydel project and other small dams produce 6500 MW electricity.

Pakistan’s total installed capacity is around 20000 MW. According to a widely circulate report, “while the peak need is Pakistan suffers from a massive electricity shortage, electricity generation has shrunk by up to 50% in recent years due to an overreliance on Fossil Fuel”.

In Pakistan the peak demand is 20584 MW, while the power produced is nearly 15000 MW. But for the past two years, the shortage has further soared because of the low generation from the water dams and negligible or insufficient output from the Rental power plants and IPPs (independent power producers)

According to available statistics, the household sector is the largest consumer of electricity accounting for 44.2 per cent of total electricity consumption, industries 31.1 per cent, agriculture 14.3 per cent, government sector 7.4 per cent, commercial 5.5 per cent and street light 0.7 per cent.

The power shortage is causing crippling impact on daily life of the citizens, on industry, agriculture and overall economy. With the total or partial closure of markets, business centers and industrial units, the unemployment has increased by leaps and bounds. The unemployment has led to poverty, gloom, and plummeting standards of daily life.

There are 14 rental power plants (RPPs) mobilized to generate 1500MW in order to partially offset the overall power shortage. In addition there are 27 IPPs to add 5305 MW to national grid by 2012. Had the RPPs and IPPs played a fair game and fulfilled their mandate, Pakistan would have been saved from the colossal power outrage that it is now experiencing. The induction of RPPs into Pakistan power grid carries a pathetic story and stigma of huge kickbacks and grafts by a former minister of power and other chips of the same block.

The illustrious scientist of Pakistan, a true patriot and Chairman of the Governing Board of Thar Coal Project, Dr Samar Mubarikmand has said that in Pakistan as much as 50000 MW electricity could be generated per day through Thar Coal reserves. Pakistan is blessed with coal deposits at Thar, Sindh, that are estimated to be one of the largest in the world.

Dr Samar has made use of a technology called “underground gasification technology” for converting coal into gas without mining or quarrying. If his claim is valid then not only Pakistan can be self sufficient in electricity generation and consumption but also be able to export it.

But there was stunning and flat refutation of Dr Samar’s claim from the member Planning Commission Shahid Sattar who declared that the Thar coal power generation project was impracticable. Shahid Sattar said in an International Conference in Islamabad, that while the project of power generation out of gasification was impracticable, actual power generation was possible only by coal-mining.

Expressing his apprehensions about the claims of Dr Samar, the member maintained that the project of 10 MW could not be carried on any further. Reinforcing his stance, he said that a similar gasification project being run in Australia is likely to be closed.

Now these are diametrically contradictory points of view on generation of electricity in Pakistan. As to who is right and who is not, cannot be ascertained by a layman. In the meantime Dr. Samar on Sunday said that four more coal wells had been set on fire and as a result gas production from these would begin from next week.

While talking exclusively to Geo News, he brushed aside reports of the project being a failure as invalid and wrong. He disclosed that “A flame will be lit from gas as emission begins from these wells towards the end of this month”.
In the wake of this load-shedding cataclysm, President Zardari has called for an emergency meeting of experts and government functionaries to deliberate upon the chaotic electricity shortage in Pakistan and to find ways and means to stem this appalling situation that has turned the life of the citizens into a nightmare and hellish.

Understandably, he was alarmed by the ultimatum of Chaudhry Shujjat, the chief of PMLQ to the effect that if the government fails to arrest the worsening power outrage, his party would part company with the PPP government. One would watch apprehensively and with folded hands as to what miracle or panacea would be hurled to alleviate the woes of the tormented population in a short span of time when it was not done for years. Visibly there is no hope for an immediate silver lining.

The article is contributed to pkarticleshub.com
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  #13  
Old Saturday, March 16, 2013
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Probing RPPs
March 10, 2013 . 1

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has written to the Supreme Court asking that the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) scam be investigated by an independent commission headed by Tax Ombudsman Dr Shoaib Suddle. He was Water and Power Minister when the RPPs were first commissioned, and was among the 15 persons accused of corruption. The investigation became controversial in its own right, when the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Investigation Officer, Kamran Faisal, was found dead at his official residence. The Supreme Court wanted the NAB investigation to continue, but the matter has become doubtful. In the meantime, the Supreme Court has had some RPPs pay back money paid out. This was after the Asian Development Bank had pointed out that the RPPs had serious defects which made for corruption. Their other defect was the failure to end the energy crisis. The PM has pointed out that the allegations disgraced the country. He will find his sentiment shared by the entire country that be an impartial investigation must be conducted.

It cannot have escaped notice that this letter has been written at a time when elections are about to be held, with Mr Ashraf poised to go into the election. It must not be forgotten that, irrespective of which party wins, his own seat is not safe. It should also be remembered that, with his government due to be dissolved in a matter of days, there is only time for a commission to be set up, not to carry out an investigation. It would allow him to brush off any accusations on this count, asking opponents to wait for the completion of the investigation. It should not be forgotten that the RPPs, forming as they do part of the loadshedding issue, are expected to form an important part of the coming election campaign.

The PM also denied influencing NAB, the revelations about NAB made after Mr Faisal’s death rendered the NAB to conduct the investigation. The PM’s suggestion of Dr Suddle, has the merit of his being an experienced police officer, who has received neither favour nor disfavor from the present regime. However, his name is merely a suggestion, and it is up to the Supreme Court to choose an appropriate person. However, whoever carries it out, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf would find few to disagree that there must be an impartial investigation.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-ne...3/probing-rpps
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Old Saturday, March 16, 2013
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Unfair electricity diversion

March 11, 2013 .

As the energy shortfall of 6,000MW, the worst point it has fallen for a long while, resulted in dreadful blackouts, reports are that Punjab is once again being denied its share of electricity. This time around, its share is being diverted to Sindh, which is as much as 450MW. The reason for this discrimination is obvious. Punjab is the largest province in terms of population and is having a large portion of the country’s industry. But while the electricity load management is not easy given the extraordinary shortfall, there have been instances where the province has been treated unfairly by the centre. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has been crying out against this practice, what he calls as electricity theft. There is substance in his argument that this was being done deliberately in order to tarnish the image of PML-N in the eyes of the public. Well talk about political point scoring and there are plenty of examples.

Definitely, the province has been a victim of such games as now the loadshedding spells have extended to 20 hours. But things could even get worse, like a week ago when a technical failure in a major power plant had a domino effect on other plants. The entire country was hurled into a blackout. Punjab’s industry is at stake. If it could not be given due electricity, at least it should receive what is its rightful share. The provincial government is also expected to pursue the matter firmly.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-ne...city-diversion
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  #15  
Old Tuesday, March 19, 2013
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Loadshedding in the future
March 19, 2013 . 0

The outgoing PPP government has failed to tackle the loadshedding problem to the extent that the Planning Commission has projected shortages of electricity of 1544MW in 2019-20. The power shortage is supposed to average 4790 MW this fiscal, and reach 5528 MW in 2015-16, before going down, but not disappearing. The Planning Commission assumed that hydel, thermal, wind and nuclear projects, as well as gas imports from Iran and the Central Asian Republics are all completed on time. This was revealed in a news report appearing on Monday. In his farewell address, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf admitted that the government had not overcome the energy crisis. It appears that the crisis will not just cover the entire tenure of the government to be elected this year, even if it completes its full five-year term, but extend well into the term of its successor. In other words, loadshedding is here for the foreseeable future. The shortage reflects that the demand for electricity will continue to grow, while the supply would not keep pace. This reflects the lack of planning by the present government, which seems to have failed to realize that electricity generation projects are of long gestation and require planning in advance.

The government should have put all possible power projects in motion. Instead, it used its tenure to place delays in the way of the Thar Coal Project and abandoned the Kalabagh Dam, which would provide a highly useful water reservoir, control floods and generate 4000MW of hydel. This pandering to foreign interests is not merely a case of cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face, but the government gave the consumer a parting kick by ending the subsidy on electricity. The only alternative to the subsidy is a backbreaking increase in the electricity tariff.

The Commission view of the situation for consumers is not hopeful. Not only will loadshedding continue, but tariffs are going to go up. Not only will this keep the consumer in darkness, but it will go on ruining the economy. The problem is perhaps too big for the caretaker government to handle, and it will be the duty of the government to be elected very soon to take the decisions now that will lead to an end to loadshedding in the future, which has already gone into the next decade, if the Planning Commission is to be believed.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-ne...-in-the-future
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  #16  
Old Saturday, March 23, 2013
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Worst blackouts
March 22, 2013 .

To all intents and purposes, one is at a loss for words to censure the outgoing central government for neglecting the energy crisis. If someone deems it as a yardstick of PPP’s colossal failure on other areas of governance, they cannot be more right.

The patience of virtually every man, woman and child suffering unprecedented blackouts that during the past few days have extended to literally 20 hours has been tested to the limit; still the masses cling on to the hope that good days of uninterrupted supply are not far away. It is hoped that the caretaker government would attend to the matter in all seriousness and pay off the circular debt. No doubt, the main challenge it has to meet is that of holding free polls but given the severity of the issue, the power shortage cannot be allowed to go on like this. It would further cripple whatever is left of the country’s industry and commerce. While the caretakers ought to pay the circular debt, the incoming government would have to see to it that payments are made regularly from then onwards, besides other projects to generate affordable electricity are commenced. One of the most viable projects that can bridge the supply and demand gap in shortest time possible is Kalabagh Dam. It will be a folly of diabolical consequences should we continue to ignore it.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-ne...orst-blackouts
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Old Friday, March 29, 2013
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Gomal Zam dam

Any amount of electricity, no matter how meager, added to the national power grid, is an opportunity offered and must be taken in the same spirit. The completion of 17.4 megawatt Gomal Zam power house, a component of the Gomal Zam multipurpose Dam Project, as such can not be belittled. The dam is located on river Gomal in South Waziristan Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the first in FATA.

The power house is currently on a test-run and will start providing electricity to the national grid in a month. It is interesting that the project now completed with the help of the United Stated Agency for International Development (USAID), has come exactly one hundred years after it was envisaged first in 1914 and then abandoned when the First World War broke out. However, the idea of the project remained alive and the British India government again decided to go for the construction of the dam around 1942. Yet again it was abandoned after Second World War began. Since feasibility studies and drawings were lying somewhere in WAPDA’s records, the project was undertaken during the period of Gen Pervaiz Musharraf’s regime somewhere in 2005 and WAPDA was able to find a sponsor in the USAID which provided $40 million to help complete the main dam and the power house. Another $40 million are also being provided by the same agency for the completion of irrigation component of the project and $12 million are reserved for the development of Waran Canal System.

No doubt Pakistan’s electricity woes are much higher than what is being added to the power system, built of the river’s run of water, must also be seen in e context of the area - one of most backward in the country. The project may make a psychological impact on the minds of FATA people viz a viz their deprivations because of a consistent neglect by successive governments in the past. No doubt, it is a very small project, nevertheless, it will create opportunities for the local people to get jobs and other benefits. This is because the dam, completed last year, also has the facility of an irrigation system which is nearing completion, as the project’s component. The gross storage capacity of the water reservoir is 1.14 million acre to irrigate 163,000 acres of land. The power house will contribute 91 million units of electricity annually to the system, which is sufficient for about 25,000 households. Gomal Zam Dam is immensely important for socio-economic uplift of the populace of remote areas, FATA in particular and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at large.

Now that a project has more or less been completed, it will be pertinent to mention another such project in FATA’s Bara tehsil of Khyber agency on river Tangi, another multipurpose of almost same in size and features. The WAPDA worked out the design and feasibility of the project most probably during the same period as Gomal Zam. All the spade work of the project is complete and the government has only to find a sponsor. If the government initiates a dialogue with the Asian Development Bank which already showed interest in it, this run of the river dam can be completed in a year so. This is but one such project in the tribal area. There are dozens of such sites if developed would not only add to the economy of Fata but the rest of the country as well.

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/category/46/
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Old Monday, April 01, 2013
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Crippling loadshedding


The country continues to be in a severe grip of energy crisis with over 20-hour long blackouts. This has crippled hundreds of industrial units resulting in massive labour layoff. During its entire tenure, the government did not add a single megawatt of power to the national grid and kept relying on RPPs. They did not even bother to tap natural resources leave alone build the Kalabagh Dam that would have provided electricity at the cheapest rate beside irrigating massive tracts of land which are now barren only due to lack of water. Alternate Energy Board is also to be blamed which has failed to launch a mega-project during the past 10 years.

Pakistan is blessed with third largest coal reserves, yet only 200 megawatt is being produced. Similarly, 55 thousand megawatts of electricity could be produced by windmills in Karachi, Thatta, Hyderabad, Jewani and Balochistan coastal areas. The potential is just being ignored. Soon after the elections when a new government would take over, the top priority should be diverting all attention as well as resources to start work on Kalabagh Dam that has been declared the most viable project by international financial institutions and experts.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-ne...g-loadshedding
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Old Wednesday, April 03, 2013
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Curse of power shortage

As summer is just setting in, power load shedding across the country has reached critical proportion. If such a condition exists now what will happen in scorching months coming? In major cities, including provincial capitals of Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta, the outages span 15 to18 hours a day and in smaller cities and urban towns this duration goes beyond 20 hours. The country’s installed capacity of electricity production is a little more than 19,500 megawatt while actual generation of power from all sources is not more than 10,500 megawatt leaving a whooping shortage of around 8,500 MW. Of this 65 per cent of electricity is produced by fossil fuel, hydro-power accounts for 33 per cent and nuclear power only two per cent. There are four major power producers in the country: Water and Power Development Authority, Karachi Electric Supply Company, 19 independent power producers, and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

Power load-shedding is decades old but its telling affect was really felt in 1997 when things started to deteriorate to become a shrieking crisis whose remedy could not be finds till today. Interestingly, power production was surplus in 1994-95 when the government of Benazir Bhutto pressed independent power producers into thermal power production and at a time India was believed to be interested in purchasing electricity from Pakistan.
When her government was dismissed, the succeeding government of Mr Nawaz Sharif focused mainly on taking on the IPPs, whose number was then 34, head-on rather than adding more power to the system. The intimidation and victimization of IPPs became so venomous that most of them opted out of the business. The IPPs exit also made an adverse impact on foreign direct investments to a degree that despite being a highly profitable sector no-one from the outside world is prepared to launch a power project in this country.

In fact, the crisis in electricity sector is owed largely to the Sharf’s first government approving a World Bank plan to corporate-ize WAPDA and divide it into generation, transmission and supply companies in 1990. The same government also accepted a similar World Bank plan for the Pakistan Railways and the people have witnessed how a utility like Railways has gone to the brinks of a total collapse. Making WAPDA’s three companies was actually undertaken by the Gen Musharraf’s dictatorial regime in 2005, although by then the regime had seen the destruction of the Pakistan Railways and should not have toyed with WAPDA with a plan which had already spelled a disaster.
What has markedly impacted the performance of WAPDA companies is that all the three of them failed to resolve their internal conflicts and its immediate net result was that the circular debt kept on rising by about Rs20 billion a month and has now reach a huge Rs280 billion. Another significant feature of the authority’s corporate-ization is that all the nine supply companies in the country witnessed a steep rise in line losses and generation and transmission companies in system losses. These losses touched an extraordinary rise up to 35 per cent of these losses while only five to 10 per cent is admissible worldwide. These losses are more than one-third of the total production which is more or less the size of the overall electricity shortfall. It goes without saying that power shortage has taken a heavy toll of the national life in the wake of closure of several industries, shrunk commercial activity and the country’s agricultural production goes dwindling. According to a conservative assessment, the daily national loss is at least Rs one billion a day, the upper limit of the losses can touch a half time more. No doubt, the caretaker administration must concentrate on the holding of the next parliamentary election, it is also obliged to make the day-to-day life easier for the people of the country. Since electricity shortage is undoubtedly the number one crisis in Pakistan, it has a definite role to play. It can at least ensure the system and line losses to come down substantially to ease life of the people. If all the supply companies must be given the task of lowering these losses by half, it would added at least 3,000 MW of electricity to the system without spending even a penny. Another step, the caretakers may take is to ensure the restoration of WAPDA’s central command by giving the chairman an authority to revive the board of members which was the pre-2005 position. It will certainly not be a new step as the outgoing federal government has already taken such a decision and the caretaker administration would only implement it in its letter and spirit. This step can at least ensure that the question of mounting circular debt is resolved significantly.

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/category/46/
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Old Wednesday, April 03, 2013
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Tax revenue and power crunch

Among the fallout of loadshedding is the difficulty when it comes to revenue generation, evident most obviously in how badly the FBR’s revenue graph has plummeted. The figures released by the FBR shows that during the past nine months, a shortfall amounting to Rs 575 billions has been registered. Where an aspect of this decrease is some of the traditional loopholes in tax collection, to a large extent the doldrums that are jolting the economy are the major cause of this fallen level. The scourge of loadshedding being the economy’s nemesis, unless it is first nipped in the bud, there can neither be any improvement in economy nor would it enable the tax graph to go up.

The FBR keeps telling the public that it is working hard to broaden the tax net but it is incomprehensible that power generation, which is such a big hurdle towards that end, is not declared enemy number one. The circular debt remains a major problem, whose payment could ease the crisis at least in the short term. The caretakers could do something about that, since the crisis is intensifying by the hour. However, in the long term, quick-fixes would turn out to be counter-productive, as they are proving at the moment and hence we would have to rely on hydro-power projects. And if there is one large reservoir that has the solution to growing water and electricity needs, it is the Kalabagh Dam now awaiting a green signal from incoming elected government.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-ne...ons/editorials
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