Solar policy is causing a decline instead of growth. Manufacturing solar panels in the country expensive than imports. A proper policy can switch the entire country to solar in six months.

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(Oct 07-2022)

Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said the solar policy of the government is giving priority to imports over local manufacturing which is not only costing foreign exchange but also discouraging manufacturing.

The future of once-promising solar sector is also getting bleak due to the discouraging policies which must be revisited at the earliest, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that there is no tax on the import of complete solar panels, while domestic manufacturers of these panels have to pay seventeen percent tax which is against the national interests.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the policies have put at stake the future of the government’s plan to generate 10,000 megawatts of electricity with the help of solar energy.

The government keeps making announcements of giving priority to local manufacturing over imports but in reality, this is not happening. At present, if the various parts of solar panels are imported from a trader in China, it becomes expensive due to various taxes, while importing fully manufactured solar panels is a cheaper option.

The relevant policies are also often changed, which affects the investment plans as well as opportunities. The government should announce a policy that will remain unchanged for at least ten years so that the sector can grow, which will reduce the pressure on expensive imported gas, oil, and coal-fired power plants.

The import bill will also be reduced as the energy imports of 20 billion dollars were made in the last financial year, which is 4500 billion rupees in Pakistani currency.

If this huge amount is provided to the people in the form of interest-free easy loans, the entire country can be switched to solar in 6 months, he said.

This will reduce the energy import bill of Pakistan to 10 billion dollars and the poor people will be able to get free electricity. But its implementation is possible only when there is a positive change in policies so that the country can start importing and manufacturing solar panels and other related equipment on a large scale.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that for two months, the State Bank has stopped the supply of foreign exchange for imports under Chapter 84 and Chapter 85, which has stopped the clearance and imports of solar, industrial machinery, and spare parts from the port, while the demurrage and detention charges are also a headache for investors as the total value of imports has also increased and the importers are running from pillar to post to get some relief.

Mian Zahid Hussain further said that since labour is cheap in Pakistan, Pakistan can also earn valuable foreign exchange by exporting solar panels, etc. for which the government will have to announce incentives.

By 2050, twenty-five percent of the world’s electricity needs will be obtained from the sun. At present, China’s share in the total production of solar power in the world is seventy percent. Other notable countries include the US, Germany and Japan, while India is showing great activity in adopting this cheap source of energy, but there is no proper policy yet in our country.

He said that after the arrival of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the country, the value of the dollar is continuously decreasing, which shows his determination and ability and Pakistan’s debts have been reduced by two thousand billion rupees. But the effects of this shortage are not being transmitted to the people for which measures should be taken.

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