The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Thursday lauded the move of the government to barter wheat for electricity with Iran. Export of 100,000 tonnes of wheat to Iran to settle dues for electricity supplied to Pakistan’s energy-starved border areas was a step in the right direction, it said.
The development proves the importance of our agriculture sector which must be supported at policy level, said Dr Murtaza Mughal, President PEW. Farming has not only been the main sector for growth and largest job provider, but it remains one of those few sectors which are performing well therefore it merits careful handling, he added. Dr Murtaza Mughal said that some elements have launched a campaign telling masses that 5,500 MW power can be generated if gas supply is stopped to the fertiliser and CNG sectors. The CNG sector has hardly been consuming six per cent of the total gas output while the fertiliser sector has been consuming 600 mmcfd gas against the allocated quota of 818 mmcfd and the IPPs are using 20 per cent of the gas output.
Dr Murtaza Mughal said that most of the gas being used by the fertiliser sector comes from Mari gas filed which is unfit for domestic consumption or power production. Country will have to spend around Rs 452 billion on urea import if seven fertiliser plants with annual production of 6.9 million tonnes are disconnected, he said adding that such a decision will destroy agriculture sector, trigger food insecurity and spark unprecedented inflation.