PSA urges PM to intervene for solar containers clearance

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) Pakistan Solar Association has called upon the Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif to intervene for the Customs clearance of hundreds of containers containing solar equipment, which have been 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,” Pakistan Solar Association Chairman Rana Abbas said in a statement issued Thursday here. He said that it was the time to aggressively promote alternative and green energy sources, and it was unwise to discourage 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.  Further, the govt has imposed restrictions on import of all items starting with 85 prefix in directory of H.S. codes while the current procedure requires that every time, import documents of solar equipment including solar panels and inverters must be submitted to the State Bank through bank’s Forex Portal.

Despite the passing of the several months, there is no response from the State Bank of Pakistan to approve the LCs 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.

The World Bank in it recent study titled “Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) Integration and Planning Study” Bank has reiterated that Pakistan needs to urgently implement a major expansion of solar and wind (“variable renewable energy” or VRE) to achieve a share of at least 30% of total capacity by 2030. This would help lower the cost of power, achieve greater energy security and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Following an optimal scenario with a major scale-up of VRE would save Pakistan US$5 billion costs over the next 20 years, mainly from reduced fuel consumption.  

However, Pakistan Solar Association Chairman Rana Abbas said that such delays in the Customs clearance would do no good to the economy of the country, rather they would discourage the traders community who are committed to contribute to the revival of economic indicators of the country.

“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 that traders community unanimously urges Prime Minister to intervene into the matter.

A large and sustained expansion of solar photovoltaic and wind power, alongside hydropower and substantial investments in the grid, is 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.