Islamabad: A federal government secretary’s latest statement on electricity is a bizarre denial of unprecedented load-shedding across the country. Its failure to deliver on its promised manifesto of resolving the energy crisis and then pretend the problem doesn’t exist is not just callous, but to deny the existence of crippling load-shedding is both cruel and dangerous, Senator Sherry Rehman said on Monday.
Rehman’s remarks come in the wake of an official statement issued by the Ministry of Water and Power. The ministry secretary Younas Dagha had said that there was no domestic loadshedding throughout the country.
“The Ministry of Water and Power’s statement unashamedly mocks the misery of consumers and industries alike, with an unprecedented increase in the frequency of power outages and load-shedding throughout the country,” said Rehman.
“Have they not seen the number of people dying of heat-stroke and the untold miseries the common man is burdened with in this hottest month of the year?” she said, questioning the federal government on its failure to deliver on its promised manifesto.
The PPP Vice President said that while the government continues to make populist claims of introducing new power projects, it has remained silent on the number of previous projects that have either been delayed or abandoned for various reasons. “At the same time, growth in electricity generation and distribution has receded,” she added.
“There is little that the federal government, which ran on a manifesto of resolving the energy crisis in a period of 2 years after coming into power, can claim in its achievements on the energy front,” observed Rehman.
“The government has paid scant attention to issues other than circular debt, including chronic inefficiency and energy theft,” she said, adding that it is clear that the supply chain of the energy sector is not helping growth, a stated objective of the government for the forthcoming fiscal year.
The senator said that with a tight deficit ceiling under the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility, the government is likely to resort to indirect taxation and further strain domestic consumers without being able to plug the energy deficit.
Rehman said that the government’s claims stand in sharp contrast with projections that show that the energy deficit will continue to expand against planned generation capability at least until 2017 and is likely to continue for another three years.
The government’s plan to diversify the energy mix through LNG imports from Qatar has also been severely compromised by the lack of transparency, proper planning and coordination. There is reason to suggest that the import process may have been expedited by the government to make up for the nation-wide petroleum crisis that erupted in January this year. “The people of Pakistan are owed a better explanation than this, especially in the month of Ramzan, where unprecedented heat is also adding to untold fatalities all across the country” warned Rehman.