LAHORE, Jan 2: Representatives of Punjab industries and other stakeholders urged Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to shun political differences with the federal government in the larger national interest and help resolve the discriminative distribution of gas and electricity.
The representatives stressed that the CM Punjab should lead a delegation of businessmen for a meeting with the president and the prime minister so that the issue is resolved at the earliest.
The representatives of all chambers of commerce and industries from Punjab gathered at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday to chalk out a joint strategy against discrimination in supply of gas and electricity that has crippled industries in the province.
They also demanded that the government should immediately appoint a full-time chairman of the Wapda Power Wing that has been working without a head for the last over five years.
Tariq Hameed, a former president of LCCI, first apprised the trade and business community of the installed capacity of Wapda and its availability in various seasons. He said that Wapda has 10 hydro projects in the pipeline, adding: “None of these would be functional within next four years even if construction work begins now.”
Hameed, who had been the chairman of Wapda, pointed out that 3000-4000 MW shortfall has been because of the circular debt. He said that Punjab has no contribution to it while some provinces have to pay up to Rs54 billion on this account. “AJK has also stopped its payment and its share in circular debt has been increased to Rs14 billion,” he informed.
“Solution of the energy problem lies only in construction of Kalabagh Dam and some other bigger dams which would not only produce substantial amount of electricity but also ensure water supply in canals throughout the year,” said the former chairman of Wapda.
LCCI former presidents Mian Ashraf and Mian Anjum Nisar were of the view that the electricity and gas should be shared among all federating units on equitable basis.
LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that the Lahore Chamber would utilise all available resources for ensuring equitable supply of gas and electricity to the industry in Punjab. He said that it did not make any sense that gas was available to the industry in some parts of the country while there was no gas for Punjab factories.
Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Zahid Aslam said that the discrimination in supply of electricity and gas was not acceptable for the businessmen and called for early construction of big dams. Rawalpindi chamber president Manzar Khurshid said that there should be separate feeders for industrial and domestic consumers. He suggested that the government should divert the subsidy of public sector enterprises towards the circular debt to end it.
The meeting was attended by the representatives of Bahawalpur, Chakwal, Faisalabad and Gujrat Chambers of Commerce and Industries. Other stakeholder included leaders of Central and Punjab Women Chamber of Commerce, All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association, Lahore Township Industrial Association, Ferozepur Road Welfare Organisation and All Pakistan PVC Pipe Manufacturers Association.