The Gas And Electricity Riots; Failure of stable policy inputs.
Dr Meher Zaidi.
Due to shortages of gas and electricity , both for industrial and domestic users, rioting has erupted in many cities of Pakistan. The violent demonstrators are burning public and private transport. This is ominous for future investment in Pakistan as both national and foreign investors will hesitate. It seems that a hand grenade attack on a cellular company network is also done to discourage foreign investment in Pakistan.
Pakistan is a country of 180 million people. It is a growing and burgeoning economy which needs wider and stable policy inputs. Its telecom and IT industry is growing very rapidly and a sure policy in both these sectors will enhance the GDP enormously. Both these sectors need stable electricity supplies.
The textile industry which again forms a major economic input again suffers because of electricity shortages.
The domestic consumers are suffering shortages while the private and public sectors in transport are unable to use gas (CNG) due to shortages in supply. The gas load management plan by the federal government does not seem to be working as the social impact like transport to schools , offices suffers considerably. Commuters are using even the top of buses and wagons, which is most unsafe.
The media anchors who are very vocal against the incumbent government fail to realize that it is the last ten years policy failures and apathy on the part of economic advisors and policy makers in Pakistan that has precipitated this crises. It is true that out of ten years, three years are of the incumbent government but the previous Musharraf government is largely responsible for apathy. It only concentrated on oil guzzling power plants.
The new energy initiatives that need to be fast tracked liked Thar Coal are again being apathetically handled by the Sindh government and its support personnel as corruption and complete lack of knowledge to handle such a sensitive and technical issue is rampant in all these quarters. Dr Samar Mubarakmand behaves as a magician and Mr Do it all which is again useless to fast track this major project. Sadly Senhua , the Chinese company that had done all the homework and whose rates were best for the project are no longer in the picture.
The issues of electricity tariffs and gas pricing cannot be understood easily by the common man. The demands by the political parties to bring the prices down are wrong. These prices and tariffs are linked to international prices and demand and supply. It is not an issue that the government can handle easily. Subsidies have to be cut and prices increased. That is the natural life cycle till we are sufficient in supply whether it is indigenous Coal, Hydro, Thermal , Wind or imported LNG. The gas supply is low because in the last ten years no sufficient gas exploration has been done. The issue of gas in transport that is CNG could have been resolved if Liquid Nitrogen Gas (LNG) was imported and used. Although according to the chairman CNG association only 7% is used of the total reserves of gas and they want to utilize the flame gas also, LNG would be a better option. The public needs to be properly educated on these issues but unfortunately the government media cell and the private media itself lack the knowledge of the issues themselves. The private media anchors are mainly show makers and they do not sincerely understand the issues to influence public opinion and build a positive response in consumer behavior.http://wwwdevelopmentpkistan.blogspot.com/2012/01/gas-crisis-i.html