Saudi energy minister ‘confident’ Vision 2030 renewable energy project will meet deadline

The new plant will generate 300 megawatts of power. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 March 2019

Saudi energy minister ‘confident’ Vision 2030 renewable energy project will meet deadline

  • Solar project will be complete on time minister says
  • Tens of thousands of homes will benefit from the renewable energy

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Monday visited the Sakaka Independent Power Photovoltaic Solar Plant – the first renewable energy project under the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative, state news agency SPA reported.

Accompanied by Habib Abdul-Samad – the Assistant Undersecretary for Development Affairs, the Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources – Khalid Al-Falih was shown the progress on the $320 bln project, which forms part of the Vision 2030 commitment to renewable energy and is due for completion by the end of the year.

Once complete the plant will have a production capacity of up to 300 megawatts to meet the energy needs of approximately 45,000 homes in the Al Jawf region.

Falih met with management and workers on the site and praised the work so far, expressing his confidence that the project would be completed on time.

Mohammed Abunayyan, Chairman of ACWA Power – which leads the project -  said one of the main objectives and commitments of the Sakaka solar photovoltaic project was to achieve 100 percent local power generation during the first year.

He said the project also aimed to provide training and employment opportunities for young people through the Higher Institute for Water and Electrical Technologies in Rabigh.

The Sakaka photovoltaic project covers six square kilometers and is the first in a series of renewable energy projects launched under the National Renewable Energy Program, which seeks to achieve the plan and targets of the Saudi Renewable Energy Vision by producing 58.7 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

Pakistani central bank lifts interest rate as inflation bites

Updated 20 May 2019

Pakistani central bank lifts interest rate as inflation bites

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 12.25% on Monday, warning that already soaring inflation risked further rises on the back of higher oil prices and reforms required for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
The 150 basis points increase follows a preliminary agreement last week with the IMF for a $6 billion loan that is expected to come with tough conditions, including raising more tax revenues and putting up gas and power prices. It was the eighth time the central bank has increased its main policy rate since the start of last year.
With economic growth set to slow to 2.9% this year from 5.2% last year, according to IMF forecasts, the rate rise adds to pressure on Prime Minister Imran Khan, who came to power last year facing a balance of payments crisis that has now forced his government to turn to the IMF.
Higher prices for basic essentials including food and energy has already stirred public anger but the central bank suggested there was little prospect of any immediate improvement.
Noting average headline inflation rose to 7% in the July-April period from 3.8 percent a year earlier, the central bank said recent rises in domestic oil prices and the cost of food suggested that “inflationary pressures are likely to continue for some time.”


It said it expected headline inflation to average between 6.5% and 7.5% for the financial year to the end of June and was expected to be “considerably higher” in the coming year. Expected tax measures in next month’s budget as well as higher gas and power prices and volatility in international oil prices could push inflation up further, it said.
It said the fiscal deficit, which the IMF expects to reach 7.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, was likely to have been “considerably higher” during the July-March period than in the same period a year earlier due to shortfalls in revenue collection, higher interest payments and security costs.
Despite some improvements, financing the current account deficit remained “challenging” and foreign exchange reserves of $8.8 billion were below standard adequacy levels at less than the equivalent of three months of imports.
The central bank said it was watching foreign exchange markets closely and was prepared to take action to curb “unwarranted” volatility, after the sharp fall in the rupee over recent days that saw the currency touch a record low of 150 against the US dollar.
Details of what Pakistan will be required to do under the IMF agreement, which must still be approved by the Fund’s board, have not been announced but already opposition parties are planning protests.
As well as higher energy prices that will hit households hard, there are also expectations of new taxes and spending cuts in next month’s budget to reach a primary budget deficit — excluding interest payments — of 0.6% of GDP.
With the IMF forecasting a primary deficit of 2.2% for the coming financial year, that implies squeezing roughly $5 billion in extra revenues from Pakistan’s $315 billion economy, which has long suffered from problems raising tax revenue.


Pakistan’s economic growth is set to slow to 2.9% this year.