By M. M. Alam
Karachi—Terming energy crisis Pakistan’s severest problem, President Engro Corporation Limited Muhammad Aliuddin Ansari Wednesday warned if long-term planning was not formulated it could lead country to destruction. Talking to the media, he observed that high oil prices had affected the whole world and being unprepared Pakistan particularly got trapped. Presenting his solution to the quandary, Ansari stressed that we could not keep on generating electricity using oil.
He said that over 50% of electricity in the world was made from coal – cheapest way to generate power – of which Pakistan had vast reserves. Commenting on the work done at Thar, Muhammad Aliuddin Ansari said; “For the first time we can say that coal could be mined commercially. We have made a complete feasibility and whole mine design.”
He said that EPC quotes were obtained and certification from third party confirmed the presence of two billion tons of coal in Block: 2: “This is the first Thar project that has reached to this stage,” he added. He said that there were a few phases as far as funding was concerned. “So far we have adhered to the original plan that we had made,” he added. He said that electricity cables and provision of water was the government’s job, lamenting work on infrastructure was not being done at desirable pace.
He said though there was enough sub-soil water at the site it could be used only to produce 600mw. Terming condition of fertilizer industry as pitiable, Aliuddin Ansari informed it was given gas merely for one month during this year. “There is no other sector that gets gas only one day per week. I believe it is a very shortsighted approach. The government has thought that if fertilizer is not being manufactured here it could be imported,” he added. He said this year we had already imported $ 1 billion worth of fertilizer and were planning to import $500 million worth of more fertilizer in the current calendar year. “If you take this logic forward, since Urea is an input for agriculture, tomorrow we might decide to import wheat itself.
He said; “Most of the aid goes towards food and I fear that in the next phase when they are out of this money, growers will not get urea and there will be no production.” He said globally farmers get support from government, for instance India gives 80% subsidy on Urea. As a result farmers there get a bag of Urea for Rs. 600 as compared to our farmers who pay Rs.1700/bag”. He said that the end of food security would take the country towards devastation. “Today we at least get food at a higher price.” He said those countries that went towards food imports never managed to come out of it.
Speaking about introduction of Halal Food brand Al-Saffa worldwide, Muhammad Aliuddin Ansari informed that Engro had acquired the company in Canada last year. He pointed out that though Halal was a very big product range there was no international brand. “We have envisaged that if Engro has to work globally we have a chance in it. Al-Saffa has got listings in all the major super markets of Canada. We are in the US market and have multiplied the Al-Saffa turnover ten times this year.”
He said that in Halal business besides being recognized they were also getting international experience: “We are in Halal & the knowledge we are acquiring is very useful for us”. He said that this year food was the biggest business out of which 80% was in milk and 20% in ice-cream. “At this time we are the market leaders in packaged milk with a share of 54% nationwide. Our products are officially going to Afghanistan that happens to be the biggest consumer of our cream,” he added. Furthermore, he said it has been reported that the Olpers Milk is profusely available in Iran”.
Commenting on Engro’s brands Dairy Umang and premium Olpers, Muhammad Aliuddin Ansari admitted that since packaged milk industry consisted of only 4 to 4.5% of the total volume of milk trade here they could not set the price.
However, he said that realizing populace’s shrinking buying power, Engro always tried to make things affordable. He said that low-priced Dairy Umang that was launched this year to enable more people drink milk was welcomed by the consumers. He assured that despite being cheap it was “much, much better than open milk”.
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