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Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s vision on energy PDF Print E-mail
By: Khushnood Ali Shaikh
KARACHI, Dec 23 (APP): Pakistan’s energy requirements over the next 15 years are expected to grow at a rate of between 4.4 to 6.1 % per annum based on the projected economic growth.Pakistan Institute of Petroleum (PIP), a credible energy advisory body of professionals in the petroleum sector, feels that this need is likely to be in the range of 115 to 148 million tonne equivalent to oil (TEO’s) by 2021-22. One can imagine, how difficult it is - in the present scenario of power shortage, depleting gas reserves and rising circular debt, to secure a much needed energy in the country in times ahead at affordable rates.However, experts in energy are still convinced that this dream can be materialized by taking advantage of the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto on energy.
Benazir’s 1994 energy policy was a comprehensive, coherent and futuristic vision of energy needs of the country and its action plan was devised after extensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders to implement this policy.
This policy met with phenomenal success. About 6,500 megawatts (MW), with an investment of around $ 6.5 billion, largely by foreign private investors, were added to the national grid. At that time, the scale for calculating the cost of thermal power plant was “one million dollars for one megawatt”.
Hub Power Company (HUBCO) with about 1,200 MW was the largest private sector power plant that came with big investment along with over a dozen independent power producers (IPPs) under 1994 power policy.
Once again, her vision about energy was truly translated in PPP’s manifesto of 2008 which called for utilizing coal, solar, hydro and wind power to get the required energy for moving the wheels of the economy. It anticipated that Pakistan would need another 8,000 MW by 2010 to meet the energy requirements of the people.
The manifesto is committed to establishing a comprehensive and credible program that ensures energy security and adequacy of supply.  Key elements would include maximum use of indigenous water and hydrocarbon resources, energy conservation, proper pricing to ensure proper use while protecting the life line consumers.
The last power station established in the public sector was the PPP’s Ghazi Barotha 1,450 MW hydro electric power project which went online in 2004. The PPP also obtained a 500 MW nuclear power station at Chashma.
Her government had also attracted Hong Kong based investment magnet Gordon Wu who signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) in October 1994, for setting up large coal-fired power generating plants to generate 5,280 MW at a cost of $ 5.5 billion near Karachi. 
Unfortunately, the slain leader never got the credit for the transformation of the country’s beleaguered energy sector and instead her policy was heavily criticized at that time by the non-visionary people. It is only now that people are realizing the loss due to IPP policy’s abrupt reversal has caused to the nation.
In fact, all those projects were awarded through a transparent and competitive process on first-come-first-serve basis. Each project had the same tariff, power purchase agreement, and fuel supply agreement. Much debated tariff was as low as 4 cents per kilowatt hour. 
In 1998 the Nawaz Sharif government accused the IPPs - particularly HUBCO - of hoodwinking the former government of Benazir Bhutto into signing fraudulent and unaffordable agreements with WAPDA.  Despite intensive investigations, no charges of corruption were proven.
Foreign investors were subjected to such humiliating treatment that many sold out and left while others had to seek protection from their governments, thus, investor confidence suffered an irreparable loss.
There is no investment in Pakistan from international banks in infrastructure projects since 1996. As a result, the national grid’s capacity remains unchanged despite several polices post-1994, since Benazir Bhutto left office.
It would be no exaggeration to state that during the last ten years, not a single mega watt of power was added at the behest of the post-Bhutto governments.
The single most significant addition of power through the 1200 MW Ghazi Barotha power project was also due to Mohtarma Bhutto who lifted this project from the cold storage of the Planning Commission and put it on the fast track for implementation.
It was in September 1995 that the financial arrangements for Ghazi Barotha project were firmed up with the World Bank.
The manifesto of 2008 had called for specific actions and interventions will include encouraging and attracting private sector energy projects, fast tracking of exploration and development of indigenous hydro carbon resources, including the Thar coal project, accelerating development of alternative energy, including wind and solar energy, reviving the Keti Bunder project, establishing an energy corridor from Central Asia to Balochistan, and a sustainable program to bring energy to the doorstep of the poor.
She called coal as black gold, that could change the destiny of the province as well as the country.
Today, the economy is loosing billions of rupees due to loadshedding.
Could anybody explain why after ten years, the country is facing a much worse peak-time shortage of power of over 5,000 MW when at the time of the 1994 policy the shortage was merely 2500 MW?
What would have been Pakistan’s fate had the IPPs set up under Benazir’s government not contributed 6,500 MW to its supplies?
Benazir stood as a beacon of light for all those who would like to see Pakistan emerge as an economic power house. From tax reforms to disciplined spending, from tariff rationalization to introduction of privatization through broad based selling of small shares, from social sectors to community development, from infrastructure development to creating a name for Pakistan in the international market, Ms Bhutto has shown what it takes to move on a determined path dictated by the imperatives of objectives.
Pakistan’s history would have been different, if she was allowed to complete her terms in office. Truly, we have lost perhaps the most renowned,  towering and internationally respected leader.
 
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