US calls for power reforms in South Asia
New Delhi, Mar 22 (UNI) Reforms are needed in South Asia's power sector for its energy-deficient nations to receive the much- needed foreign direct investments, US Charge d'Affaires Robert Blake has said.
''Market reforms will help to level the playing field and are needed for foreign direct investment to flow to the power sector in this region,'' said Mr Blake while addressing a USAID-backed seminar on 'Developing Regional Energy Markets' here yesterday.
FDI was minimal in the sector due to the lack of commercial practices, he said adding the existing financial, commercial and institutional structures remain a barrier to investment.
Reforms will help increase the quality and equitability of energy services to all classes of customers while reducing the total cost to the economy, he added.
Better commercial practices in the energy sector will also help state governments to take steps to make power companies financially viable, he said referring to the success story of the Noida Power Company, which is giving uninterrupted power supply to the community.
According to Mr Blake, regional cooperation and integration of the energy sector in South Asia are the key elements of long-term energy security in the region.
''We support regional integration because we are confident that it will benefit the economy and security of all South Asian countries,'' he said at the seminar attended by executives of power companies from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Afghanistan besides South Africa and Europe.
Mr Blake also called for close cooperation between South Asia and Central Asia to strengthen energy security of both regions.
South Asia faced an energy shortfall equivalent of 125 million tonnes of oil in 2003 and India and Pakistan alone require an approximate 220 million dollars of investments by 2010 in the energy sector, he added.
Except Bhutan and to some extent Nepal, none of the South Asian countries is energy sufficient. Better relations between South Asian countries as well as South Asia and Central Asia are critical to the region's energy security, said Dr Surya Sethi, Energy Adviser in the Planning Commission.
UNI FZ LR PC1742