Pakistan’s economy gradually stabilizing, says PM Khan

In this file photo, Pakistani workers unload rice sacks at a wholesale market in Karachi on April 8, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 15 November 2019

Pakistan’s economy gradually stabilizing, says PM Khan

  • Praises the country’s new wind power projects since they will help reduce its reliance on expensive fossil fuel
  • Pakistan plans to increase the share of renewable energy in its overall power mix to at least 30 percent by 2030

KARACHI: Pakistan’s economy was out of a difficult phase and gradually stabilizing, said Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday while addressing a ceremony in Islamabad, adding that all major economic indicators of the country were moving in the right direction.
“The difficult period experienced by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government during its first year in power is over. The rupee is gaining value without support, stock market is showing positive sentiment, exports are increasing, current account deficit is declining, and investors are reposing confidence [in the country’s economic policies],” Khan told the audience at the signing ceremony of the Super-6 310-MW Wind Power Projects.
The program aims to build six wind power projects in Pakistan with a total investment of $450 million that will help reduce the country’s reliance on expensive fossil fuels and produce cleaner electricity.
“I am happy today for three reasons,” Khan said. “The country will get cheap electricity as these projects will result in power generation for less than five cents. This will also reduce the overall electricity prices. Besides, the projects will help us produce clean energy because the next generation is about to face the big challenge of global warming.”
Pakistan secured $6 billion bailout program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address the balance-of-payments crisis and stabilize its economy. The loan required the country to increase revenue collection and undertake stringent economic reforms.
“By the grace of God, we are moving in the right direction. After the stabilization phase, we now have to move forward and to run our economy so that we can lift the general public out of poverty as China did through enhanced revenue generation,” he said.
Despite the huge potential of hydroelectricity, the prime minister added, the country relied on costly power generated through imported fuel due to the lack of long term planning.
The Super-6 projects are expected to reduce the power generation cost substantially, bringing it down to more than 40 percent of the current average cost of electricity production.
Pakistan plans to increase the share of renewable energy in the overall power mix to at least 30 percent by the year 2030.
On Tuesday, the country’s Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) executed the Implementation Agreements (IAs) with 11 Wind Power Projects. The cumulative capacity of these projects will be 560MW and they will provide more than 1.8 billion units of clean energy annually.
An investment of about $700 million will be brought into Pakistan as soon as these projects achieve the financial closing in the coming weeks. According to the AEDB, these projects are envisaged to come online by 2021.
The Super-6 plants, with a combined capacity of 310 megawatts, will be among the lowest cost power generation facilities in the country to date. They will be built in the Jhimpir wind corridor in Sindh province and will generate more than 1,000 gigawatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power 450,000 homes. The program is also expected to lead to emission reductions of about 650,000 tons of CO2 per year.
All Super-6 projects are being developed by domestic companies, including the ACT Group, Artistic Milliners (Private) Limited, Din Group, Gul Ahmed Group and Younus Brothers Group.
“The government is aiming to increase the non-hydro renewable energy share in the overall generation mix from 4 percent to 20 percent by 2025 and it is welcoming to see Pakistan’s local private sector behind these Super-6 wind projects,” Omar Ayub, federal minister for energy, said in a statement issued on Friday.


Pakistan interior minister orders ‘strict’ action against spread of COVID-19 'fake news'

Updated 12 min 45 sec ago

Pakistan interior minister orders ‘strict’ action against spread of COVID-19 'fake news'

  • Says all available resources would be used to identify people who spread misinformation
  • Rights activists fear new laws to curb coronavirus fake news could be used to clamp down on freedom of speech

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s minister for interior, Ijaz Ahmad Shah, on Thursday directed authorities to take “strict and immediate” action against those involved in spreading coronavirus misinformation, a week after the government announced plans to introduce new laws to curb COVID-19 “fake news” on social media.
Last week, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), a top federal body set up to oversee the government’s coronavirus mitigation efforts, set up a committee under the chairmanship of the interior minister to prepare a legal framework to help the government deal with coronavirus-related “fake news” on social media platforms.
“The Federal Minister for Interior, Ijaz Ahmad Shah directed the Director Cyber Wing, FIA to closely monitor and hold the responsible ones accountable for their actions,” the Ministry of Interior said in a statement released after Shah presided over a meeting on formulating a “COVID-19 Disinformation Prevention Mechanism.”
“He reinforced the point that strict and immediate action should be taken against these people. The Minister further said that people who are involved in such actions are not pro-country or its people.”
Shah said the primary purpose of the new committee was to ensure that “correct and credible information” was disseminated, adding that all available resources would be used to identify people who spread disinformation.
He also directed the head of Pakistan’s electronic media regulator not to allow “fake news” to run on TV channels.
Islamabad has previously struggled to regulate online content mostly by blocking or asking social media companies to remove blasphemous material and other posts that violate the country’s religious and cultural norms and laws, or hurt national security interests.
In February, the government approved, and then rolled back, new rules to regulate cyberspace after opponents said they could be used to stifle dissent. Social media companies have also largely shunned obliging to help law enforcement agencies access data and remove online content deemed unlawful.
Rights activists and free media campaigners fear the government’s new coronavirus “fake news” mechanism could be used to clamp down on freedom of speech.
“This shady mechanism is going to have serious implications for the already squeezed freedom of press and expression in Pakistan,” Haroon Baloch, researcher and program manage at Bytes for All, told Arab News.
Baloch said disinformation on social media was a challenge but not a crime, unless it turned into “deep-fake” news that harmed individuals and groups.
“The government must ensure transparency in the so-called mechanism,” he said, “along with ensuring an oversight of civil society and free speech campaigners to prevent abuse.”