Pakistan is facing serious economic challenges nowadays. As per last week’s data from the State Bank of Pakistan, foreign exchange reserves held by the country had plunged to only 3 billion dollars. The government is restricting imports across the border to control the outflow which is only exacerbating the matter as more than seventy percent of the imports are energy and raw material which is essential to run the wheel of an economy.
We can get out of the chronic balance of payment crisis by exploiting local resources. Pakistan has a massive coal reserve in Thar. We can use it to generate electricity rather than depending on expensive RLNG and furnace oil. This will significantly save foreign reserves and ensure energy security by reducing our dependence on imported fuel.
Moreover, Pakistan has accumulated circular debt of around 2.5 trillion by using expensive fuel for electricity generation. Thar coal will diversify the generation mix and help us reduce overall electricity cost. According to National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC), power production cost based on thar coal is only 3.39 per unit, almost ten times less than the average electricity production cost.
Therefore, instead of quickly building reserves by borrowing from multilateral institutions and friendly countries. Policymakers ought to fix the real bottlenecks which are resisting us to attain sustainable long-term development.
SALMAN AHMED ANSARI,