PM’s initiative: Rs6 billion to stifle electricity protests

Minister for Water and Power Naveed Qamar

ISLAMABAD: As protests against power outages continue to rage across Punjab, the prime minister used his executive authority on Thursday for the immediate release of Rs6 billion to provide relief to the mostly blacked out province.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani gave the directives while presiding over an emergency meeting at the PM House to review/address the energy crisis in the country. The finance ministry was directed to release the funds to the water and power ministry for payment to electricity generation companies to increase power generation.

The prime minister asked the petroleum ministry to take steps for the uninterrupted provision of natural gas to power plants to minimise load-shedding hours. Emphasising the need for constant coordination and discussion to resolve the energy crisis, the prime minister also directed the cabinet’s energy committee to hold daily meetings.

“The committee’s daily meetings would resolve issues coming in the way of implementation of various decisions and I’ll personally seek a day-to-day report,” he said.Later, the prime minister directed the ministries concerned to hold an energy conference on April 9, to consult various stakeholders and evolve a national policy to deal with the energy crisis.

“A resolution of the energy crisis is the top priority of the government and necessary measures will be taken to address the shortage as it is the main hindrance in the way of foreign investment in the country,” Prime Minister Gilani said.The premier also directed Minister for Water and Power Naveed Qamar to convene a meeting with defaulting provincial governments and private sector entities for the recovery of outstanding dues.

The participants of the meeting were briefed by Qamar on the current energy shortfall and the steps taken so far to rationalise load-shedding. The minister claimed that hydel power production had suffered due to a long winter spell, which led to a lower than expected water inflow. On a more positive note, Qamar claimed that water inflow was expected to rise in April, which would in turn lead to increased hydel production.

Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who had been especially invited to brief the meeting about the prospects of foreign investment in the country, apprised the attendees that a large number of foreign investors had shown a keen interest in various sectors of the country.The finance minister apprised the prime minister about various long, medium and short-term measures which the energy committee has so far deliberated upon. – Thetribune