US considers funding Pakistan energy projects

President Barack Obama's special envoy said US was considering funding projects on Pakistan's power sector.

US considers funding Pakistan energy projects

President Barack Obama's special envoy said on Monday the United States was considering funding projects on Pakistan's power sector, but played down the speed at which assistance would materialise and crippling electricity shortages would end.

Pakistan's finance minister, Shaukat Tarin, said the government would rent electricity-generating plants over the next three to five years to fill the gap until large-scale energy projects come online.

He said Washington could help by providing financial guarantees to encourage private investment in the sector.

Obama's envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, offered few details about the kinds of projects Washington would sponsor.

"This problem's been building for 25 years. We need time to work out what makes sense," he said, adding that U.S. commitments "don't mean electricity in Karachi next week".

Power shortages have devastated the country's economy and undercut support for its government.

U.S. trade promotion agencies such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank could provide financial backing for some of the long-term projects, but doing so would require U.S. congressional authorisation.

After meeting Pakistan's foreign minister on Sunday, Holbrooke declared the energy sector, rather than ailitary offensive in tribal areas, his "primary focus" in talks this week in Islamabad and Karachi, the country's financial centre.

Pakistani cities sometimes suffer outages of up to 20 hours a day. Key industries have been shuttered, sending unemployment soaring.

To ease power shortages in the short term, Tarin said the rental power plants would be used to generate up to 3,500 megawatts of electricity.

Reuters

Last Mod: 17 Ağustos 2009, 18:03
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