Energy issues to be under control in 2 years: Khurram
Federal Commerce Minister Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan Thursday said energy issues would be well under control within next two years. He expressed these views in a meeting with office-bearers of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and leading businessmen and later in a brief media talk at the Lahore Expo Centre on Thursday.
The Federal Minister said sufficient electricity and gas would not only be available to all sorts of consumers but also at a comparative rate within next two years. The Federal Commerce Minister said despite shortage of electricity this winter, there was zero load-shedding on all industrial feeders, asserting that Pakistan's economic development hinged at industrial sector that was again a major source of jobs creation.
He said all the apprehensions about LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) import had now died down and Pakistan managed to strike an agreement with Qatar for LNG import at a very comparative rate of just over 13 percent of the imported oil price. While, most of the ongoing power projects from all resources would start generation within next two years, he added.
The Federal Minister mentioned that financial close of USD 2.4 billion Thar Coal Extraction Project had been done and Prime Minister would soon perform ground-breaking of the project to be completed by 2018.
To a question, he said soon after waiver of sanctions from Iran, he had held a meeting with newly appointed Iranian Ambassador in Islamabad and discussed in detailed the possibility of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Iran as well as matters regarding Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline. He mentioned, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had also visited Iran and central Asian states for improving Pakistan's connectivity with them.
"Now, we are at an advanced stage of improving of our trade relations with Iran," he said and added that now Pakistan's exports to Iran would increase and in addition to rice, other commodities would also be sent to Iran. Khurram Dastgir said current financial year would prove to be very challengeable for Pakistan's exports due to global recession and economic slowdown of China. He elaborated that Pakistan exports increased by 15 percent under the GSP-Plus regime but it could not make an eminent impact due to decline in value of Euro against US dollar, while Pakistani cotton yarns demand reduced substantially by respective Chinese companies due to their economic slowdown.
The Federal Minister viewed that these were temporary challenges, which would be overcome; however, the country's major challenge was competitiveness of its merchandises at global level mainly because of high input cost. Keeping this factor in view, he mentioned, the Prime Minister had announced Rs 3 per unit reduction in the electricity tariff for the industry.