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PR Short Notes


Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 475, 16 December 2022

Government's scheme to save energy and reduce the import bill



How this plan looks to stabilising the economy, curb electricity theft and conserve power

Bhoomika Sesharaj

On 15 December, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the government has worked out a National “contingency” Energy Conserving Plan to stabilise the economy to maintain energy and cut the import bill and that an “extraordinary situation” required “extraordinary measures.” The plan was prepared by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and was approved in a high-level meeting that was presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at his office. Marriyum said that the plan would be placed before the cabinet in its next meeting for final approval and would also include all the chief ministers of the provinces to collaborate on the decision. 

Key areas of the plan

Marriyum highlighted two main focal areas of the plan. First, transitioning from traditional power to solar power for private and government buildings. She said that the decision to build up solar energy came from the government’s meeting on economic recovery and elimination of energy shortage and that the plan focussed on reducing the electricity costs and load management of electricity in the country. Officials of the Energy Ministry and Finance Ministry resounded with Marriyum’s announcement and said that conservation and impacts of the fuel bill of the country could be reduced by USD 1.5 billion to 2.5 billion if the plan was fully implemented. 


Along with the emphasis on saving and converting energy, she also stressed that Pakistan’s import bill had risen to PKR 6 trillion and that PKR 262 billion could be saved by adopting the measures proposed in the plan. 


Second, coping with electricity theft. The government discussed legislation to allow DISCOs to be set up with “special” police stations to deal with electricity theft and would increase the pace of installing the Advanced Metering of Infrastructure (AMI) meters by June 2023 so that all industrial and commercial connections, bulk consumers and one-point supply stations will reduce the pilferage of electricity and technical sections of traditional electricity systems. Officials said that a separate “autonomous project directorate” would be established and that the DISCOs would provide a timeline for the completion of these projects with the Power Division accordingly.

Additionally, the government also convened to impose excise duties on inefficient electrical items, fix a set timing for shops, encourage electric bikes and outsource the electricity billing collection to significantly reduce the load management and entail technology to outsource transformers and feeders as well. The outsourcing would also streamline new methods of energy auditing and accounting principles, with the current system failing to accurately identify energy “stealing” consumers and technical loss areas. This comes as Prime Minister Shehbaz emphasised that conserving energy is “the matter of Pakistan’s survival,” and that it is “imperative” to save costs and build renewable ways to survive rises in global pricing and economic instability. (Syed Irfan Raza, “Govt devises plan to conserve energy, cut import bill,” Dawn, 16 December 2022, “Govt formulates strategy to conserve energy,” The Express Tribune, 16 December 2022, Khalid Mustafa, “Electricity theft to be stopped through policing, outsourcing bill collection,” The News International, 16 December 2022, Syed Irfan Raza, “Ministerial panel formed to tackle power crisis,” Dawn, 12 October 2022)

 

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