Pakistan Solar Association (PSA) has called upon Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif to intervene for customs clearance of containers of solar equipment stuck for months at various ports across the country.
“A huge number of solar devices import containers are awaiting clearance while importers are facing heavy demurrage charges,” PSA chairman Rana Abbas said in a statement issued on Thursday.
He added that it was the time to aggressively promote alternative and green energy sources, and encourage the traders dealing in solar energy equipment in Pakistan. “The containers containing solar equipment have been stuck for months at ports mainly awaiting approval from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).”
Abbas said the govt had imposed restrictions on import of all items starting with 85 prefix in directory of H.S. codes while the current procedure required that every time, import documents of solar equipment including solar panels and inverters must be submitted to the SBP through the bank’s forex portal.
“Despite passing of several months, there is no response from the SBP to approve the LCs [letter of credits] while importers are unable to get released their goods from the Customs authorities. This is resulting in excessive demurrage and detention charges on a daily basis being suffered by the importers and traders, as their terrible financial losses would ultimately lead to their bankruptcy.”
PSA citied that the World Bank in it recent study titled “Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) Integration and Planning Study” Bank had reiterated that Pakistan needed to urgently implement a major expansion of solar and wind (“variable renewable energy” or VRE) to achieve a share of at least 30 percent of total capacity by 2030.
That would help lower the cost of power, achieve greater energy security and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it added. “Following an optimal scenario with a major scale-up of VRE would save Pakistan $5 billion costs over the next 20 years, mainly from reduced fuel consumption,” the report stated.
Abbas said such delays in customs clearance would do no good to the economy of the country, rather they would discourage the traders community who were committed to contribute to the revival of economic indicators.
“At present, as the only alternative to the rising prices of petrol, electricity and gas; and, ever-increasing climatic deterioration and pollution, renewable energy sources like solar and wind power plants are the need of the hour to overcome the energy crises in the country,” he said, adding the traders’ community unanimously was demanding the prime minister’s intervention into the matter.
PSA chairman said a large and sustained expansion of solar photovoltaic and wind power, alongside hydropower and substantial investments in the grid, was both achievable and desirable.
Such an initiative would lead to immediate and long-term economic and environmental benefits. It would also enhance security of supply as well as positioning Pakistan at the forefront of the global energy transition, he stated.