8: Policy Panel – Priorities for Country Research in Energy

Moderated by Dr. Naved Hamid, Resident Director IGC Pakistan, the Policy Session focused on the research priorities for South Asian countries in energy outages.

Dr. Robin Burgess, Professor at the London School of Economics, presented the talk “Lightining Up South Asia”. Professor Burgess discussed the importance of raising demand of energy due to the structural changes and the rapid urbanization undergoing in South Asia and the high cost of unmet demand in terms of loss of individual and industrial productivity. Professor Robin Burgess stressed the importance of addressing the economic research to incentivize a more efficient demand side management in the energy market. This new approach follows the need for a more rapid response to the energy outages along with the low government capacity of increasing energy supply. Future research should focus on incentives capable to reduce demand supply at peaks, contrasting the theft of energy and a more efficient energy resources allocation in the agricultural sector.

Mr. Suleman Ghani, Economic Advisor for Pakistan federal governments, discussed the consequences of government delocalization of the generation of energy to the federal states and its impact on efficiency and cost in meeting local energy demand.

Dr Minhaj Mahmud, Head of Research at the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, presented the Bangladesh energy case and the government challenges in providing affordable energy for almost half of the population. Dr. Mahmud also discussed alternative strategies explored by the Government of Bangladesh in improving energy access, such as a better involvement of private capital through private public partnership.

Dr. Arvind Mayaram, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, India, discussed the importance of increasing the energy supply along with an affordable pricing policy for the disadvantaged strata of societies. As well, Dr. Arvind Mayaram stressed the importance of improving governance in state power management through the promotion of efficient and independent regulatory bodies.

Mr. Jahanzeb Khan, Federal Minister for Finance, Government of Pakistan, commented on the necessity of efficient allocation of private capital in supporting infrastructure and energy investments. Mr. Khan also stressed the importance of an efficient and fair regulatory framework to assure equitable pricing policies and productive investments. Finally, the Minister of Finance discussed the importance for Pakistan of depending on a reliable portfolio of energy resources to cope with the high volatility of world energy prices.

By Filippo Sebastio, Country Economist, IGC Bangladesh