Government efforts to boost power supply will end load-shedding in few months: Ahsan Iqbal

ISLAMABAD: WASHINGTON: Energy projects will add 10,000 MW to the national grid that will help overcome the energy shortages and end load-shedding in the country in a few months, Minister for Interior, Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal said here on Friday.

Talking to reporter before leaving for New York at the end of his visit here, the Minister said that the government made conscious efforts during the past four years to end the energy crisis that hurt every sector of the economy and affected the country’s exports.

“When we came into power after winning the general elections, the country was facing the worst energy crisis of its history with power outages of as long as 20 hours a day,” the Minister said but added that today, the load-shedding had been drastically reduced to just few hours a day.

He said that various measures taken by the government, including energy projects that would add 10,000 MG to the national energy supply, would end the energy crisis in the country.

By redressing the energy shortfall, the government was keen to boost economic productivity, he added.

The Minister said that under the China Pakistan Economic Power Corridor (CEPC), private sector had invested $36 billion into the energy sector and it was not loan. He said as a result of this massive investment, Pakistan would soon be free of load-shedding.

He particularly mentioned about the Chinese investment in the coal sector and said that Pakistan had coal reserves that were sufficient for 400 years.

Responding to a question about the trade imbalance, the Minister said that import bill rose mainly on account of importing machinery that was needed for various projects. After completion of these projects, Pakistan would be able to increase its productivity which would boost exports.

He also added that as a result of energy deficiency, many factories were forced to close and negatively impacted the country’s exports. However, he hoped, after the addition of mower supply to the national grid, these factories would work full hours and help boost exports.

The Minister said that the PML-N government had taken several initiatives in the education sector.

He said that Pakistan had the fewer number of Ph.Ds compared to its peer.

He said that in the United States, there were more than 250,000 Chinese studying for Ph.D degrees and a country like Iran, which was facing American sanctions, had more than 15,000 Ph.D students. As compared to that, he added, there were only between 5000-6000 Pakistani Ph.D students here.

Earlier, while addressing a gathering at the Embassy Forum, organized by the Pakistan Embassy, Washington DC, the Minister said highlighted the economic gains and the security successes of Pakistan achieved in the last four years.

He shared the remarkable progress made by Pakistan in the macroeconomic sector through prudent fiscal policies which have resulted in economic growth rate of over 5.3 percent per annum. Major economic projects were under way, such as CPEC that would generate business opportunities for foreign investors in coming years.

The Minister said that the security situation had improved considerably after successful military operations in the tribal areas as well as other parts of the country. Through the valiant efforts of Pakistan’s security forces and the determination of the entire nation, the country had reversed the tide of terrorism which had gripped it five years ago, he added.

Ahsan Iqbal also shared initiatives taken by the government to enhance education, empower women, improve healthcare and reduce poverty in Pakistan. He also sought support for the US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor.

On Pak-US relations, the Minister expressed the hope that both countries would continue to work together in future as they had been strategic partners over the last seven decades.

Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry thanked the Minister for sharing his views on the occasion and helping to promote Pakistan’s positive image in the US.

The Forum was well attended with participants from US State Department, academia and members of the Pakistani American diaspora.