Lahore: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has urged the government to ensure cheap energy for the industrial sector.
The LCCI President Malik Tahir Javaid said that at present, high energy prices are a major concern for the industrial sector which is combating various internal and external challenges. Pakistan’s worst ranking in ease of doing business is clearly indicating that how many obstacles are being faced by the industry.
“Pakistan is ranked 147 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business. The rank of Pakistan deteriorated to 147 in 2017 from 144 in 2016. New Zealand, Singapore, Denmark, South Korea, Hong Kong, USA, UK, Norway, Georgia and Sweden are leading from front in ease of doing business index while Pakistan is lagging behind from the countries like Mozambique, Grenada, Mali and Nigeria”, Malik Tahir Javaid said and added that energy is the major raw material for the manufacturing sector and its high prices are one of the biggest reasons for country’s deteriorating ranking in ease of doing business.
The LCCI President said that worldwide around 20% of electricity is being generated through hydropower. Norway and New Zealand are producing 99% and 75% respectively of their electricity with hydel resources. He said that investment by the government in energy sector will give huge benefits to the country in many counts therefore immediate action should be taken in this regard and investment particularly should be promoted in hydel power projects as it is the cheapest source of energy. He said that investment in hydel projects for power generation will drastically reduce the economic miseries of the country. For example, he said, cheap hydropower will reduce the cost of doing business, enhance manufacturing activities, get rid of energy crisis besides ensuring availability of water for agriculture sector.
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Malik Tahir Javaid drew the government’s attention towards Kalabagh Dam and that perhaps Pakistan is the only country in the world where important water and power projects are being opposed that is unfortunate. Indian water aggression and our failure in building new water reservoirs have thrown country into the queue of water-starved countries. He said that those are guilty of the nation who are opposing Kalabagh dam as research reports have warned that Pakistan will reach absolute water scarcity by the year 2025 if water reservoirs are not built.
The LCCI President said that perceptions against Kalabagh dam are totally wrong and actually are a move to safeguard the interests of the enemies of Pakistan. He said that Kalabagh would be equally beneficial for all provinces. Actually delay in construction of Kalabagh dam is the one and only reason of water shortage in Sindh and other parts of the country. He said that water supply to Sindh was averaged 36.6 million acre feet annually before construction of Mangla and Terbala dams. This supply was enhanced to 40.30 million acre feet after building of these dams. He said that Kalabagh dam will also supply over 4 million acre feet additional water to Sindh.
The LCCI president said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry had already feared that water crisis would hit the agriculture sector of the country due to lack of sufficient water storage facilities while water storage capacity in Terbela and Mangla dams has considerably reduced. Therefore, Kalabagh dam is a must for the country. “It would be better if anti-Kalabagh elements play role for early construction of this mega project instead of fueling the provincial conflict otherwise our future generations would suffer” Malik Tahir Javaid added.
The LCCI President said that the Kalabagh dam is inevitable for the progress and prosperity of the country as it will produce power at an average cost of Rs.2/kwh. This cheap power will annually displace costly power worth approximately Rs300 billion with consequential savings of costly oil imports.
Senior Vice President Khawaja Khawar Rashid and Vice President Zeshan Khalil said that studies have indicated that pumping water for potential cultivable land would cost farmers Rs 5000 per acre per year while canal water after construction of Kalabagh Dam would cost only Rs400 per acre per year. They said that additional water would also be available for Sindh in all seasons. They said that all the stakeholders should show some greater maturity on the issue of Kalabagh. It is the high time that all undue stands should be brushed aside to save the country from that era of darkness.
(This news/article originally appeared in Pakistan Observer on September 5th, 2018)