Jahangir’s World Times at Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences, (BUITEMS), Quetta.

Students shared their views by highlighting different aspects of the prevailing energy crisis and its impact on our economy.

Jahangir’s World Times arranged a discussion forum in which students of the Department of Economics of Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) expressed their views on ‘Energy crisis and its impact on the economy of Pakistan’. Their arguments were logical, convincing and categorically sound.

Students shared their views by highlighting different aspects of the prevailing energy crisis and its impact on our economy. Their arguments showed an in-depth analysis of the energy crisis and its devastating impact on the economy. In addition, they also gave some suggestions to the government and policymakers. Actually, their arguments reflected a vision and showed their keenness towards the economic future and development of Pakistan.

Before initiating the debate Aziz Ahmad, a faculty member of the Department of Economics, introduced the topic to the students. He said, As you know, we are facing a severe shortage of electricity across the country i.e. energy crisis. Similarly, it has a deep impact on our economy. In fact, the whole country is suffering from the scheduled and unscheduled power outages, which indeed have disturbed both domestic life and economic activities in the country.

We are gathered here to understand the dynamics of this energy crisis, its impact on the national economy and the ways to come out of this crisis.

Ali Ehsun, a student of BS Economics looking confident said, ‘Energy is just like fuel for the economy, similarly existence of energy crisis makes the economy vulnerable and adversely affects the industrial sector. For instance, the textile industry of Pakistan is badly hit by the energy crisis. Many textile units in Faisalabad have been closed down. As a result, this crisis has led to an increase in the rate of unemployment. Pakistan is an unfortunate country because it has enormous natural resources like ‘Thar coal reserves’ but it is still facing a worst kind of energy crisis.’

Maleeha Hassan, another student of BS Economics highlighted another dimension of the energy crisis. She said, ‘Energy crisis is the shortfall in the supply of energy resources to an economy and often has deep effects on the economy. In fact, power shortage has gripped the whole country by jeopardising its economy.

Furthermore, the gap between demand and supply remained fluctuat ing between 3,500 megawatts to 6,000 megawatts in January this year. Thus, the energy imbalance has become a threat to the economic growth and prosperity of Pakistan.’

Salahuddin said, ‘Pakistan has to suffer from the serious consequences of poor economic development because of the energy crisis and I think the biggest reason of this is the sluggish response of the government authorities.

Moreover, energy crisis is brutally affecting our economy because it raised the cost of production of almost all goods, which in turn increased the rate of inflation. Similarly, the alarming magnitude of this endless crisis also brought a considerable decline in exports. This crisis demands a sound long-term national energy policy but unfortunately we lack a future vision of energy in Pakistan.’

Samiullah, student of BS Economics looking energetic said, ‘I will not highlight the facts and figures of energy crisis but would like to give some suggestions. First of all, we desperately need a comprehensive and viable plan in order to get out of this crisis. I think we should divide the plan into two parts namely the short-term plan and the long-term plan. In the short-term plan we should take some steps to control line losses, proper handling of circular debt and enhancement of hydel power by repairing or cleaning of dams and reservoirs. On the other hand, in the long-term plan we have to increase utilisation of renewable resources of energy like solar and wind energy and making of small dams and reservoirs to save maximum water for electricity generation. In brief, we have to utilise our enormous energy potential and reduce our dependence on oil and gas for electricity generation.’

Muneer Kakar, an economic scholar, spoke differently. He said, ‘The present energy crisis is chronic and acute in its very nature and it has deep imprints on our economy. It is quite clear that energy is the bedrock of all economic prosperity. If we look at the developed countries, we can easily understand their secrets of success and smart and sophisticated use of energy. Furthermore, energy crisis is a global dilemma now, and all nations are trying their level best to overcome it. If we look at the energy scenario in Pakistan, we can see that the main problem is of imbalance between demand and supply of energy.

The demand of energy is increasing but we are unable to increase the supply of energy accordingly. In fact, the main reason of this imbalance is that we are still heavily relying on non-renewable resources of energy like thermal power. According to an estimate about $6 billion of the GDP has been lost only because of energy crisis. If we see Pakistan in terms of its natural potential of producing energy then it is the most fortunate in the world. On the contrary, lack of sound planning and policy making makes us the most unfortunate nation. We can learn from China and India because they are also producing energy from coal and other economical resources like solar and wind. It is interesting that China is far ahead from America in the production of energy from renewable resources.

Moreover, energy imperatives are driving the Indian foreign policy. In addition, eight per cent GDP growth rate of India shows that their political will and farsightedness for the economic prosperity of the country is much better and profound than us but we are unfortunate in this regard.

Faraz Khan said, ‘I think two sectors of our economy are facing severe consequences of energy crisis; first is our industrial sector and second is our agricultural sector. The production and distribution of these two sectors is severely hurt because of gap in the supply of energy. Moreover, this persisting crisis of energy has also increased the costs of inputs, which in reaction raised the prices of goods. In brief, fragile nature of our economy is the gift of energy crisis. We must also take steps to utilise the wind potential of Pakistan for production of energy.’

Sania, another student of BS Economics threw light on the difficulties faced by the agricultural sector. Actually, we are heavily dependent on non-renewable or traditional resources of energy like fuel and gas and these resources would run out in the near future.

Being an agricultural country, a huge quantity of agricultural raw material is produced in Pakistan. But due to energy crisis, the industrial process has halted and Pakistan has to face an economic setback. The economy of Pakistan is dependent on the textile sector. Pakistani textiles are exported across the world. However, it is surprising that now Bangladesh is competing with Pakistan because of the energy crisis. In fact, the textile industry is the most worst-hit sector of our economy. Actually, continuous gas loadshedding has caused immense damage to the textile industry of Pakistan.’

Hira Ehsan Achakzai said, ‘We always look towards the government for the fulfillment of its duties but being the citizens of this country we also have some duties towards it. I think we should create awareness about the importance of energy in our society at all levels. Usually, we turn on computers or other electronic appliances and keep them switched on while we are not using them.

So, we collectively have to change our attitude at the national level about the usage of energy. An effective awareness campaign can help a lot by which we can definitely overcome this crisis in the future.

Mateen, student of BS Economics, said, ‘Today Pakistan is in the grip of a serious energy crisis which is affecting all sectors of our economy and various segments of our society.  The fact is that we do not have any immediate solution to resolve the issue but a change of attitude is needed at the national level. This should be triggered by the ruling elite and followed by all segments of the society that have access to electricity.

At the end, the Chairperson of the Department of Economics of BUITEMS, Miss Erum Shafi, concluded the debate. She said, In my opinion severe energy crisis in Pakistan has enormous negative impacts on country’s economic development. In fact, the continuous power shortage is creating hurdles in the current pace of economic growth of the country rather it has put the economy on a ventilator. This shows that we have to revisit our national energy policy if we do not want to face such crisis in the future.

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